30 Jul 2013

Banking and Insurance in the GCC Countries: Is there Regulatory Convergence with the EU?

Rym Ayadi / Willem Pieter De Groen

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The financial services sector plays a pivotal role in the quest of the GCC countries to diversify their economies. While the sector is dominated by commercial banks that provide traditional banking services, non-bank financial institutions, insurance and capital markets are still underdeveloped, albeit with significant differences between the individual countries. Despite efforts to revise the regulatory and supervisory frameworks in recent years, the GCC countries have not been able catch up with the more developed EU financial markets. This paper, written by Rym Ayadi and Willem Pieter de Groen, with contributions from Ales Chmelar and Elina Pyykkö for the Sharaka project, provides an overview of banking and insurance in the GCC countries in comparison with the EU27, assesses regulatory reforms and the degree of convergence, and provides recommendations to strengthen EU-GCC cooperation and integration in financial markets.

Sharaka is a two-year project implemented by a consortium led by Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). The project, partially funded by the European Commission, explores ways to promote relations between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), through the implementation of policy-oriented research, outreach, training and dissemination activities. The overall project aim is to strengthen understanding and cooperation between the EU and the GCC, with particular attention to the strategic areas identified in the Joint Action Programme of 2010, such as trade and finance, energy, maritime security, media and higher education.

For more information visit www.sharaka.eu