(ANSAmed) - MILAN, MAY 16 - Islamic finance is growing at an annual rate of 20%. It has a global value of 1,600 trillion USD and counts 400 institutes with their offices. But the system is not breaking through in Italy, but according to Hatem Abou Said of Al Baraka Banking Group (Bahrain) ''it could be useful also to support SMEs, which have limited access to credit through the traditional systems, with their internationalisation process." Abou Said spoke during a conference in Milan on the issue, saying that the crisis in the West and the Arab Spring ''there is complementarity''. It would be useful, in his view, to ''attract the attention of Islamic finance to help Italian companies that could be active in the re-launch of the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea." ''Islamic finance,'' Abou Said continued, ''is determined to help the European economies that are in difficulties. But I'm afraid that people in Italy have wrong ideas about these instruments, which are meant for everybody, not only for Muslims." In this context, Pierfrancesco Gaggi, head international relations of Italian Banking Association ABI admits, ''little has changed since a few years ago'' and the debate that was opened to change regulations to allow the introduction of 'sukuk' and other Islamic instruments in Italy as well has been halted by the crisis. ''The banking sector had to deal with more urgent issues,'' Gaggi confirmed. (ANSAmed).