The UK government is sponsoring an international conference on Middle East financial markets on 28-29 April, adviser to the Bank of England for the Middle East and Asia John Milne announced on 10 January (see pages 5-10).

The UK, as a member of the Regional Economic Development Working Group of the Middle East peace process, has invited senior ministers, central bankers, economic advisers, bankers and other financial experts to discuss a range of issues. These include the present economic situation and future, potential economic assistance from outside the region, central banking policies, legal and accountancy issues, the further development of capital markets, investment potential and regional co-operation.

Among those who have agreed to participate are: Ahmad Qoreia (Abu Ala), director-general of the economics department of the PLO; Said el-Naggar, professor emeritus, Cairo university; Jacob Frenkel, governor of the Bank of Israel; Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England; UK Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs Douglas Hurd; and Lord Tugendhat, chairman of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Milne said that the UK had been given particular responsibility for fostering financial markets developments in the region by the economic development working group.

The UK is also to finance a consultancy study on the region’s stock markets, Milne said. The study is out to tender and an award is to be made soon. It will examine the current structure and regulations and the potential for linking regional markets.

A UK fact-finding mission in July said that financial networks in the occupied territories were very rudimentary and identified this area as most in need of action. The UK is considering financing technical assistance for the occupied territories’ financial sector, Milne said.