OPENING REMARKS BY THE AMERC CHAIR, MR. PAUL MUTHAURA, MBS, AT THE 42ND AMERC MEETING, JUMEIRAH MESSILAH BEACH HOTEL & SPA, KUWAIT, 22ND JANUARY, 2019
Distinguished Members, Observers and Invited Guests,
I am extremely delighted to welcome you all to the 42nd Edition of the meeting of the Africa Middle East Regional Committee of IOSCO in the beautiful Kuwait City, following our last meetings in Rabat and Budapest.
I also wish to unreservedly thank to Mr. Othman Al Issa for so ably leading his team in making this event happen, barely four months after assuming the position of Vice Chairman and Managing Director of CMA Kuwait following the exit of Mr. Mr. Mishaal Al-Usaimi from the institution.
Please also join me in recognizing our new AMERC Vice Chairman, Mr. Khaled Alhomoud, Commissioner of CMA Saudi Arabia. This is indeed a milestone period for the Africa Middle East as we also recognize Dr. Obaid Al Zaabi who was elected unopposed as the new Chairman of the Growth and Emerging Markets Committee in December. I am sure you would also agree that Mr. Ranjit Singh provided exceptional leadership to the GEM Committee in recent years and we can look forward to the committee rising to even greater heights under the leadership of Dr. Al Zaabi.
With the representation of AMERC at IOSCO Board level at an all-time high, I am confident we shall work together with the wider IOSCO membership to drive forward key initiatives not only relevant to our region but to raise our voice to inform global regulatory reform and development priorities.
On behalf of AMERC, I wish to welcome the IOSCO Secretary General, Mr. Paul Andrews to our meeting. The significant presence of heads of delegation from across our region at this meeting in parallel to the current engagements in Davos is a resounding confirmation of our mutual belief in the importance of AMERC and the work we seek to drive. It would seem that our colleagues in Kuwait made a conscious effort to lower temperatures to unlock a comparable level of impactful thinking associated with that Alps environment.
You will recall that the theme of the 44th GEM IOSCO Meeting in Cayman Islands in September was: “Building sustainable capital markets in a digital era.” I am therefore glad to note that this meeting will be building upon and further advancing key deliberations on not only sustainability financing, the opportunities and risks arising from fintech, supporting economic growth through long term finance including listings and harnessing appropriate solutions to address SME financing. It is heartening to note that these topics not only cut across the priorities of the Region, Growth and Emerging Markets but also the priorities of the whole organization under the leadership of the Board.
As we commence this 42nd AMERC Meeting you will see from the Agenda that a core focus has been placed on facilitating learning from the experiences of various jurisdictions on the referenced subject matters and I encourage all attendees to actively participate to ensure that we can all leverage the lessons learnt and manage the risks identified in our different market environments.
Distinguished Colleagues, conscious of the unique challenges, opportunities and socio-economic markets landscape of the African and Middle East Region, I remain confident that with the growing proactive participation of our members in our own regional priority projects as well as those of the wider IOSCO community, we will continue to leverage increased value from our respective memberships in IOSCO as well as delivering on our national responsibilities to develop and regulate orderly, efficient and effective capital markets.
Turning to the Outcomes of the 41st AMERC Meeting in Budapest, other priority areas of AMERC include investor education and financial literacy, capacity building, financial innovation and challenges relating to low listings and capital raising within the region. In this context AMERC stands to provide key contributions to Committee 8 on Retail Investors especially on the application of behavioral insights to financial literacy and investor education programmes as well as on work related to Regulatory Technology (RegTech) and Supervisory Technology (SupTech) .
In the financial innovations space, Initial Coin Offerings and Crypto Assets remain a growing concern for the region and globally, especially in light of the targeting and flow of investments across borders and it is becoming more compelling to clearly define the role of regulators, scope of oversight of crypto assets and the eligible assets and recognizing and regulating the cryptocurrency markets.
Cyber security and cyber resilience must also of course remain front a centre in our sights and noting ongoing IOSCO work at Board and committee level, I would once again urge our regions active participation in applicable workstreams to ensure that standards, policies and practices being recommended will be fit-for –purpose across the entire IOSCO Membership. On behalf of AMERC, I wish to laud progress on the IOSCO Fintech Network and particularly the strong expressions of interest submitted by a number of jurisdictions including AMERC Members to join this initiative that will go a long way in assisting members as they consider how to address the domestic and cross-border issues stemming from financial technology that could impact investor or consumer protection. I can attest to the support that Kenya has received from the Network as it finalizes its framework to support the operationalization of a Regulatory Sandbox for FinTechs.
Distinguished members, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Low listings and a drought in IPOs remains a major global concern and the story is not different for the AMERC Region. Based on the interim findings on the AMERC Survey on listings and the discussions that emerged, there was a call by members for the report to be concretized to look at the wider context of capital markets solutions that can be leveraged by businesses including private equity. In this context I acknowledge and appreciate the presence of Financial Sector Development Africa who have shown a willingness to partner with AMERC and IOSCO to achieve the same.
I would further encourage frank deliberations on how AMERC jurisdictions can work on individual and cross-jurisdictional strategies towards translating investor education and public awareness into actual uptake of products and services as financial literacy alone is not the panacea for national and regional economic transformation driven by the capital markets. I am personally looking forward to the presentation this afternoon to catalyze this discussion further.
Another area that we expect further deliberations on is progress on may be the potential unintended consequences of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as we see increasing “privacy activism” and are forced to internalize the impact this may have on regulatory information sharing. As has been highlighted by the MMoU Monitoring Group and Steering Committee, as we see fines rising and increased restrictions on private technology companies, we must work to ensure a clear carve out for the unrestricted sharing of regulatory and supervisory information.
Capacity Building remains a key priority of AMERC and I must appreciate the progress in this area through support of the IOSCO Secretariat as AMERC has held a number of regional training initiatives alongside the largely successful IOSCO/PIFS-Harvard Law School Global Certificate Program for Regulators of Securities Markets and the roll out of the Online Toolkit.
Without pre-empting the entire Agenda of the 42nd AMERC Meeting, I wish to emphasize the prudence of continuously reviewing global and domestic risks in our respective jurisdictions and taking mitigation measure in order to promote financial stability. Conscious that as a region, domestic risks can promptly spill over into regional challenges, I am confident that our open deliberation of risks and opportunities will help us build proactive mitigation measures, support harmonization of inter-jurisdictional rules and laws and promote improved information exchange amongst regulators.
At the end of today’s session we shall be receiving a presentation on the 43rd AMERC Meeting and Conference, 2020 by QFMA Qatar and thereafter will seek expressions of interest for the Hosting of 44th AMERC Meeting and Conference in 2021 look forward to the same.
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to thank you once again for the confidence that you have bestowed upon Khaled and I to lead AMERC. Please be assured that we will work with you as well as the IOSCO Board in ensuring that AMERC progresses to the next level in guiding its members towards a deepened capital markets. I once again urge your full and frank participation in this and all other sessions in the coming days!
Thank you very much and I declare the meeting open!
Paul Muthaura, MBS