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DIFC Highlights Opportunities For Chinese Financial Sector

by Lorys Charalambous, Lowtax.net, Cyprus
16 September, 2015

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a free zone in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sent a delegation to the cities of Beijing and Shanghai in China to highlight the zone's new investment opportunities for the Chinese financial community.

Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, said that the DIFC's position at the heart of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) would be advantageous to China as it carries out its "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative, which aims to enhance connectivity and cooperation along the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road," linking markets in MEASA.

The DIFC's 10-year strategy targets an increase in assets under management from USD10.4bn to USD250bn, balance sheet growth from USD65bn to USD400bn, and a financial company portfolio of 1,000 firms, up from 382 in June 2015. The total workforce employed within the Centre is also expected to rise from 18,521 to 50,000.

Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, emphasized the UAE's readiness to work with China in achieving the goals of the OBOR initiative at a meeting with China's Foreign Minister Wangi Yi in February this year.

According to Kazim, China and the wider Asian region are playing an increasingly significant role in the DIFC's rapid evolution. "Asian firms are an engine for growth, reflecting a broader regional and global economic trend, accounting for 11 percent of the financial services companies within DIFC but as much as 50-60 percent of its incremental business activity," he said. "DIFC offers the tools, talent and supporting environment to help China realize its development priorities in the MEASA region."

The Agricultural Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China operate full branches within the DIFC, while the Bank of China and China Construction Bank plan to convert their subsidiary offices into full branches soon.

The DIFC offers firms zero percent income tax guaranteed for 50 years, 100 percent foreign ownership, no exchange controls, and a legal system based on English common law.

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