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October 14, 2007

ICAEW expands footprint in China and Middle East

ICAEW expands footprint in China and Middle East

Europe’s largest professional body has continued to develop relationships in China, the Middle East and other developing markets around the world.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) this month launched a Chinese IFRS certificate and revealed it would set up a joint project team with the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA), with the aim of conducting detailed research and investigating comparisons between the Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) and the Chinese CPA qualifications.

ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza told TA these measures are designed to strengthen ties between the two bodies as well as to help China develop its accounting profession to an international standard.

“The Chinese Ministry of Finance and the CICPA recognised that as China becomes more important on the global scene they have a need for more high quality accounting professionals than they currently have,” he said.

One of the areas in which the ICAEW is keen to help the Chinese profession is the application of IFRS. Izza says the ICAEW was approached to produce a Chinese version of its Certificate in International Financial Reporting Standards, which has been marketed in other parts of the world. The certificate offers learning materials and accreditation to accountants who demonstrate knowledge and competence in IFRS and International Accounting Standards.

“In discussions with friends in China, they expressed a view that as China itself was going to be launching its own IFRS, which it did earlier this year, it would be very helpful if a similar facility was available within China,” Izza said, while adding that the translation process proved challenging.

Another growing initiative between the two bodies is a top-up programme, which gives qualified CICPA accountants an opportunity to gain exemptions and complete the ACA qualification. Izza explained: “The first year we had 77 enrolled and this year we’ve got about 129. We are looking at the best of the Chinese doing this.”

CICPA secretary general Chen Yugui said the agreement “demonstrates another positive step from CICPA towards implementing its international strategy and enhancing Chinese accountants’ standing and influence in the world”.

The ICAEW is pursuing activities in other developing markets and has launched its ACA in the Middle East. The course will be taught in Dubai and Bahrain from 2008. “There aren’t strong professional bodies in that part of the world and it tends to be that they have taken training from other jurisdictions and brought it in,” Izza explains. “We actually think there is an opportunity for us to work to raise standards but secondly to practise work with local bodies so that in time you can see the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Qatar having strong domestic bodies [that] are going to uphold those values which we take for granted.”

In recent times, the institute has launched its qualification in Russia, Cyprus and Malaysia, and has sealed an agreement to launch in Pakistan. Izza says plans are under way to launch in other destinations, including countries in South-East Asia.

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