Saudi Arabia warns against speculation in Gulf currencies


Al Jasser also said he saw no need to tighten Saudi monetary policy now and added that the country’s dollar peg served the Gulf’s largest economy well.


Saudi Arabia is one of the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which plans a single currency by 2010.


However, this deadline is in doubt. Markets have been piling pressure on Gulf currencies, betting that some central banks will allow their currencies to appreciate against the falling dollar.


Asked what he would say to those speculators betting on higher Gulf currencies, Al Jasser said: "Try to find other currencies. GCC currencies are solid, well managed and [it] would be dangerous for speculators to try to play them."


Al Jasser, who is vice-governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, added that the six Gulf countries had not discussed the dollar peg at a meeting they held in April.


"The course was stayed because it wasn’t raised as an issue. The course is to peg the currencies to the dollar until the launch of monetary union and the creation of the monetary institution," he said.


"Everybody is still committed to that agreement," said Al Jasser, who was in Basel for a bi-monthly meeting of central bank officials at the Bank for International Settlements.


Speculation of a delay to monetary union gathered momentum after Oman said last year it had decided not to meet the target.


Al Jasser said: "2010 is getting closer and closer which makes it much more demanding to complete all the technical work, but the committees are working hard and we see what we can achieve before the deadline."


Asked if the countries were committed to the deadline, he said: "Yes."


The global economy, including Saudi Arabia’s, can withstand dollar weakness now better than in the past, the vice governor of Saudi Arabia’s central bank said.


Mohammad Al Jasser also said the US economy’s fundamentals remained in good shape despite a modest slowdown.


"Not only Saudi Arabia, but the rest of the global economy can withstand more than it could in the past the decline in the value of the dollar," he said.


"Financial markets are playing a significant role now, capital inflows affect the value of currencies and value of dollar-denominated assets."

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