Connected corridors – the new dynamic of international trade and finance
Tarek El Nahas, Head of International at Mashreq Bank joined (remotely) Richard Banks, Editor, Euromoney LiveStream to talk about the banks’ international network and the opportunities brought by new trade, business and investment flows.
|Tarek El Nahas,
Head of International,
Euromoney: Why did you decide to join the Mashreq management team?
TN: I had heard about Mashreq being a very forward-thinking and progressive bank with a strong history of innovation. A lot of investment was being made into their digital transformation journey with the aim of becoming a genuinely customer centric institution. Mashreq is probably the most truly regional bank in the country. It is a local bank by structure but very much an international bank by process, infrastructure, products offerings and culture. Finally, Mashreq is a very agile institution with a high degree of empowerment to the management team and therefore our decision time to market is extremely quick.
Euromoney: Tell us about Mashreq’s international business
TN: Mashreq operates in 11 countries outside its home market of the United Arab Emirates. In some ways they’re very different businesses depending upon the countries in which they operate. For example: in Egypt, which is Mashreq’s second biggest market, we are a full-service retail, corporate and SME bank. We have predominately corporate branches in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and India and predominately FI branches in the major global financial centres of New York, London and Hong Kong. We also have rep offices in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Given our geographic footprint, our strong cash and trade product offerings and our deep understanding of emerging and frontier market risk we are in a great position to intermediate trade flows in key global corridors. The corridors we are most active in are China to Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia to and from the Middle East, and the Middle East into the US, Europe and more recently into Africa as Dubai increases its relevance as a regional trading hub.
Euromoney: Is Asia just about intermediating trade flows or is it more than that?
TN: Asia is much more than just a trade flow market to us. The region has very developed financial markets – whether they’re in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea – and there’s a lot of liquidity in Asia at the moment which is ready to deploy. We’ve had good results with our Certificate of Deposit Programme in Hong Kong recently and the Asian investor base is a large market for Sukuk and other Islamic offerings.
Euromoney: Where do you see the opportunities for the bank in regional business in the MENA area?
TN: The key theme in the GCC these days is diversification. For companies this can also mean that they are trying to diversify their geographic footprint as well as the sectors in which they operate. So, what we see today is a lot of, for example, UAE companies expanding right across the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). We also see high growth countries like Egypt and India as large opportunities for growth for UAE companies. So we work very closely with the UAE corporate and investment banking management – as one team – in order to realise these synergies and deliver holistic pan-regional solutions to our clients.
Euromoney: What’s next for international business at Mashreq?
TN: We are constantly looking to increase our footprint across the Middle East region and have some applications already lodged. We are also looking at expanding beyond the region – for example in China which would significantly enhance our RMB offering and allow us to intermediate even more trade flows.
What really excites me is the massive opportunity for growth in this bank. Remaining customer-centric, continuing to invest in innovation and building out our network and product offerings to support our clients’ needs. We will also add new trade corridors as the UAE continues to grow as a trade and logistic hub for the region. We have the know-how and the appetite – it’s just a matter of rolling it out.