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The Gulf banking sector has had a tough time of late. The precipitous fall in the price of oil since mid-2014 and the resulting economic slowdown across the Gulf has shrunk balance sheets and tightened liquidity on a drastic scale.
This has spurred Gulf banks to look further afield for new revenue streams: capitalizing on the region’s growing ties with China is proving popular.
China has overtaken the US as the largest exporter to the GCC, with exports reaching $56bn in 2015, while GCC exports to China stood at $101bn – equal to 11.7% of the region’s total exports. GCC trade with China is expected to grow to $350bn within the next 10 years. To be able to help finance this trade, Gulf countries have been scaling up their financing services in the Chinese Renminbi (RMB), with the UAE and Qatar being the most active in this space.
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