The largest commercial bank in Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited (HBL), attended the SCO Interbank Consortium’s (IBC) 18th Council Meeting on Tuesday, the 23rd, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
HBL Chairman Sultan Allana addresses the Council
According to a statement from the bank, Sultan Ali Allana, chairman of Habib Bank Limited (HBL), while speaking at the 18th Annual Council Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Interbank Association (SCO-IBA), called for a regional clearing mechanism that would enable trade between Shanghai Cooperation Organization members.
HBL Chairman Sultan Ali Allana stated during the annual meeting that it was “imperative to priorities sustainable development goals.”
The chairman also disclosed that HBL has collaborated with China to develop green lending activities and loan management framework as part of its commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG).
Allana also underlined that HBL, as the first foreign bank under BRI-GIP (green investment principles), has started the adoption of the China-EU Green Taxonomy. He said the project, which will be finished this year, aims to “position HBL to access foreign investment, maybe including the ability to issue a green bond on China’s capital market.”
Regional clearing mechanism
The creation of a regional clearing mechanism to promote commerce among SCO member nations is of “utmost necessity,” according to Allana, given the significant changes in regional trade, logistics, and food security. Perhaps we can use one or both of the regional currencies to facilitate trade between the member nations while working to create a regional currency over time, he suggested.
A financial inclusion agenda that may reach a wider range of people and give access to the impoverished was also advocated for by Allana. He said that HBL has also taken “revolutionary” initiatives “to increase our client base through creative digital solutions,” drawing on China’s use of technology to help millions of people escape poverty.
Allana also spoke of the importance of technology and Artificial Intelligence which can “greatly enhance outreach”.
“We have much to learn from China which has been successful in bringing over 99 million people out of poverty over the last 40 years,” Allana said.
HBL and SCO-IBC
HBL joined the SCO-IBC as a partner bank in August 2014, and at the SCO-14th IBC’s annual council meeting in 2018, one year after Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, it was promoted to the status of a member bank (SCO).
HBL has over the years played a special role in the region by enabling financial transactions, commerce, and investment between SCO members, particularly via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
For the sole purpose of providing financial services to Chinese businesses, HBL established a dedicated China coverage team in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad in 2013. This team is made up of Chinese and Pakistani bankers. For Chinese investors and those constructing enterprises in the Gwadar Free Zone (GFZ), the bank established a branch there in 2016.
The second phase of CPEC’s high-quality development has encouraged HBL to diversify and innovate in the financial services industry. For instance, HBL joined 27 other worldwide institutions as one of the first organizations to sign the Green Investment Principles (GIP) for the Belt and Road in 2019, advocating green finance and investment in CPEC projects.