The Governors of the Arab Central Banks and Monetary Agencies began to meet formally in the early 1970s, first in Cairo in September 1972, followed by Baghdad in February 1975, and then in Amman in July 1978.
At the third meeting it was agreed to hold the Governors’ meetings on an annual basis under a new framework called “Council of Governors of the Arab Central Banks and Monetary Agencies”, established under the auspices of the Arab League.
At its fifth meeting, held in Riyadh in October 1980, the Council approved the procedural rules related to its work, including assigning the Arab Monetary Fund, given its objectives, to act as its Technical Secretariat. The procedural rules included as well establishment of the Council’s Permanent Bureau in charge of following-up decisions approved by the Council and preparation for its upcoming meetings. The Bureau is composed of the current Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council, the Governor of Central Bank of Egypt given that the headquarters of the Arab League are located in the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the Governor of the UAE Central Bank as United Arab Emirates is the AMF’s host country. The Bureau also includes the Director General Chairman of the Board of the AMF as well as the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs of the Arab League.
The main objectives of the Council are to emphasize the important role played by Arab Central Banks and Monetary Agencies, and to work towards greater cooperation and exchange among Arab countries in the field of central banking. The Council targets as well coordinating the Arab countries’ positions on international monetary issues, with the objective of achieving their common interests and contributing to finding appropriate solutions for those issues.
In this regard, the Council of Governors of the Arab Central Banks and Monetary Agencies has responsibility to prepare and adopt the Unified Arab Discourse that is presented regularly on behalf of the Arab countries at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings. The Council is also charged with discussing and adopting the annual Unified Arab Economic Report prepared by the Arab regional financial institutions on the economic developments in the Arab countries.
In recognition of the importance of promoting cooperation, coordination and exchange of experience and expertise in specific areas of banking, the Council established two permanent committees. The first is the Arab Committee on Banking Supervision. Created in 1991, it is composed of the Directors of banking supervision of Arab central banks and is responsible for following up the developments in banking supervision and compliance with Basel standards.
The second one is the Arab Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems. Established in 2005, it is composed of the managers responsible for payment and settlement systems in the Arab central banks, and it aims to promote efficiency and security in such systems.
In 2012, and in light of the growing interest in topics related to financial inclusion and access to financial and banking services, the Council called for the establishment of a regional specialized task force to promote financial inclusion in the Arab countries.
The Council examines in its annual meetings various topics, among which are the Unified Arab Discourse and the Unified Arab Economic Report, as well as the report and recommendations submitted by the Arab Committee on Banking Supervision and the Arab Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems. Furthermore, the Council’s agenda also covers the important item of exchange of experience and expertise among Arab central banks, with a focus, every year, on the detailed experience of a selected central bank on specific topic of high interest for the region. In addition, the annual meetings represent an excellent opportunity to discuss recent economic and financial sector developments both at the regional and international levels.
The Council’s annual meetings are attended in the capacity of observers, by representatives of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Union of Arab Banks and the Union of Arab Securities Commissions, as well as the IMF and World Bank Executive Directors, representing Arab countries.