On October 20th, 2008, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Middle East) Limited (hereinafter referred to as "ICBC (Middle East)") held a grand opening ceremony in Dubai, the economic and financial center in the United Arab Emirates (the UAE). ICBC (Middle East) is the first wholly-owned subsidiary bank established in the Middle East by Chinese banks. Meanwhile, it also marks that ICBC has successfully taken a major step toward expanding overseas financial services and promoting its internationalization strategy.
Located at Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), ICBC (Middle East) has a full business license, the highest rating from the local financial regulator, and can provide a full range of financial services, including accepting deposits, providing credits, trade financing, dealing in investments as principal, dealing in investments as agent, arranging credit or deals in investments, managing assets, advising on financial products or credit, arranging custody, etc..
Since the 1950s, there have been trade between China and the UAE, and in recent years, bilateral trade has witnessed sustained and rapid growth. In 2007, bilateral trade amounted to more than USD 20 billion, increased by 41% over that of 2006. The UAE has become China's second largest trading partner and largest export market in the Arab world. By the end of 2007, non-financial direct investment from Chinese enterprises in the UAE has amounted to USD 180 million, involving sectors such as petroleum, petrochemical, telecommunications, trade, project contracting, logistics and real estate, while Chinese-funded companies registered in the UAE have topped 3000. Continuous development of economic and trade exchanges between China and the UAE, as well as growing demand for investment, has created more demands for financial cooperation between both countries.
In this case, considering its international strategy and the demand for expanding its overseas network, ICBC launched the work to apply for the establishment of ICBC (Middle East) in the fourth quarter of 2007. Under the support and help from governments and regulators in China and the UAE, on April 28th, 2008, ICBC (Middle East) successfully obtained a full business license, the highest rating from the local financial regulator. According to experts in the industry, as the cooperation among China, the UAE and other Middle East countries continues to strengthen, ICBC (Middle East) will build a more direct and accessible bridge for regional investments and economic and trade activities, which will greatly enhance ICBC's capacity to provide global services for clients.
Jiang Jianqing, chairman of ICBC, said at the opening ceremony, that based on its strong financial strength, advanced technological expertise and diversified business platform, ICBC (Middle East) will be committed to building a more direct and accessible bridge for investment and trade activities among China, the UAE and other Middle East countries. At the same time, ICBC (Middle East) will make full use of the geographic advantage and financial resources of Dubai in the Middle East and Gulf region, based on the markets of UAE and Qatar, and will gradually expand the scope of business to the entire Middle East and North Africa. ICBC (Middle East) will provide trading clients, multinational corporations, financial institutions and individual clients in the Middle East and North Africa regions with a full range of high-quality financial services, in an effort to further enhance the competitiveness of ICBC in the Middle East and global arena.
As China's largest commercial bank, ICBC has a solid client base, advanced IT platform, and diversified products; it maintains a leading position in all the major business areas in China. After share listings in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2006, its management expertise and profitability have witnessed sharp increase. In the first half 2008, ICBC realized after-tax profits of USD 9.5 billion, making it the world's most profitable bank. In recent years, under the backdrop of economic integration and financial globalization, taking notice of the huge demand from Chinese enterprises which have adopted the "Going-out" strategy, ICBC has been actively promoting the strategy of internationalization, speeding up the extension of overseas network, widening the field of business, in an effort to enhance the ability of cross-border financial services. By the end of June 2008, ICBC has extended business institutions to 15 countries and regions, with a total of 126 branches and subsidiary banks, and established correspondent bank relationship with 1360 banks in 122 countries and regions. ICBC has initially formulated a multi-level-structured, reasonably positioned, and efficiently operated global financial service network platform with diverse , which covers major international financial centers, and China's major economic and trade cooperation regions.