GCC states discuss financial crisis

Gulf finance ministers say their countries are able to withstand global financial crisis.

    The oil boom in Gulf Arab states has resulted in large cash surpluses [AFP]

    The ministers "underlined their confidence in the stability of the monetary system in their countries," and the strength of their economies.

    "It is expected that the economies of the GCC countries will continue to grow by good averages," they said in a joint statement.

    Following the meeting, Youssef Hussein Kamal, Qatar's finance minister, said Gulf countries have "proved to the world that our laws and strict oversight are what saved us from the crisis the world is in".

    "This gives [the world] reassurance to come and invest in our countries," he said

    Kamal also said the crisis will not affect plans by the GCC to set up a single currency by 2010.

    Cautious optimism

    But Ibrahim al-Assaf, the Saudi finance minister, told the Saudi press agency that there were signs of a recession in developing countries that could directly or indirectly impact GCC economies.

    "We should all work to avoid the negative effects and reduce their impact on our economies by coordinating policies and measures,"he said.

    Several analysts have said that the GCC nations are well positioned to weather the brunt of the financial crisis - at least in the short-term - largely because of their large oil-fueled cash surpluses.

    But many of these nations have seen shares in their local stock markets decline in tandem with broader global markets.

    Since January, Saudi Arabia's benchmark Tadawul index is down by more than 44 per cent and the Dubai Financial Market is off 45 per cent, according to data from Zawya, a Middle East business information Web site.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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