The French Senate is looking at ways to eliminate legal hurdles, particularly levies, for Islamic financial services and products in France and the potential for listing companies on the Paris Stock Exchange. The Senate said its initiative was consistent with recommendations from a report on Islamic finance prepared by the Financial Affairs Commission last May.
The report stressed the great importance of Islamic finance in France and indicated the legal amendments required at a financial level to adapt French laws to the Islamic financial system.
Senate sources said that this area of the financial market was worth from 500 to 600 billion dollars and could grow by an average 11 percent a year.
Last month French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde announced France’s intention to make Paris “the capital of Islamic finance” and announced several Islamic banks would open branches in the French capital in 2009.
Lagarde said at least three banks had requested permission to operate in France—the Qatar Islamic Bank, the Kuwait Finance House and the Al Baraka Islamic Bank of Bahrain.
According to an opinion poll condcuted last May, around 500,000 French Muslims are interested in Islamic banks.