Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, held in Beijing on the 10th of July 2018, that China will set up a " China – Arab Countries Interbank Association " with a special fund of US$3 billion in financial cooperation. On July 12th, Fransabank Group attended, as a founding member, the establishment ceremony of the China – Arab Countries Interbank Association (CACIA) and its first Council meeting, in Beijing.
Fransabank Group General Manager Nadim Kassar signed the "Declaration on the Establishment of the China – Arab Countries Interbank Association" which is the first multilateral financial cooperation mechanism between China and the Arab countries. Along with Fransabank from Lebanon and China Development Bank were the National Bank of Egypt; BMCE, from Morocco; and the First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). The ceremony was also attended by Mr. Hu Huaibang Chairman of CDB, Mr. Zheng Zhijie President of CDB, Mr. Zhang Xuguang Vice President of CDB, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador of the Mission of the Arab League States in Beijing HEMahmoud Al Amin, Lebanese Ambassador to China Ms. Milia Jabbour and the diplomats of Arab League, Egypt, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates in China.
CDB Chairman Hu Huaibang said that the purpose of CDB to initiate the establishment of the China – Arab Countries Interbank Association is to strengthen the Belt & Road Initiative and effectively link the development vision of the Arab countries under the framework of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, and establish a long-term stable, mutually beneficial and win-win financial cooperation relations.
President of CDB, Mr. Zheng Zhijie, stated that Fransabank Group was chosen to join the association by CDB, as “ it is one of the most outstanding banks with great market influence”, having indicated that member banks were selected based on outstanding business performance, huge market influence and willingness.
As China's largest foreign investment and financing cooperative bank, CDB has played an active role in China-Arab pragmatic cooperation. Up to now, CDB's loan balance in Egypt, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries has reached nearly 8.5 billion US dollars, supporting a number of key projects in the petrochemical, power, telecommunications, finance and other fields.
CDB announced at the meeting that it will further increase its support through this association providing the first phase of the US$3 billion special fund for China-Arab financial cooperation and the US$10 billion reconstruction and industrial revitalization fund.
Chairmen of Fransabank Group, Adnan and Adel Kassar, who were the pioneers in building the modern ties between China and the Arab world, expressed great pride at having Fransabank chosen as founding member of this important association.
Chairmen Kassar indicated “We are delighted to be chosen by China Development Bank as the only Lebanese bank to be the founding member of the China Arab Countries InterBank Association, which is an impressive recognition from the world’s leading development bank. Fransabank attaches great importance to its cooperation with the world’s leading financial institutions and has been recognized as a pioneer in strengthening these ties including with the leading international development Banks such as IFC, EIB, EBRD, AFD/PROPARCO, and DEG of KFW group. Chairmen Kassar stated that they believe the establishment of this association “will open a new chapter for our cooperation with China Development Bank for jointlyfinancing projects in our region as well as in bringing needed investments and financing for key projects in our markets.”
Chairman Adnan Kassar reaffirmed his commitment promised to President XI Jinping when he presented him the China-Arab Outstanding Contribution Award in Cairo in 2016, that he would spare no effort to continue to push forward the China Arab cooperation at all fronts. The video broadcast at the inauguration in Beijing showed photos of Adnan Kassar’s award ceremony with Chinese President XI, as well as photos of Adnan and Adel Kassar unveiling the plaque of the “Adnan and Adel Kassar Silk Road Cultural Center” named after them by the Chairman of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce, in honor of their legacy with China. The 7 story cultural center is located in the city of Xi’An, the ancient capital of China.
CDB video also showed Fransabank headquarters on Hamra Street and indicated that Fransabank was the first Arab bank to establish a China Desk. Fransabank has a strategy to be the banking partner chosen by Chinese companies operating in the various countries where Fransabank is present as well as local businessman dealing with China; these markets include Lebanon, France, Iraq, the UAE, Algeria, Sudan and Ivory Coast, as well as Belarus
The opportunities in the Arab world for Chinese banks and companies are enormous. This association comes particularly at an opportune time for Lebanon where the Lebanese government just launched the $20 billion Capital Investment Program to improve infrastructure and other key sectors, which has attracted great attention from Chinese companies since its announcement just last April.
Lebanon has a unique offering to China with its successful, influential and wide-spread Lebanese diaspora whether in the Arab countries, America, Europe, Latin America and Africa. This valuable global network can also serve as a great platform for Chinese banks and companies for their overseas development.