October 01, 2005
OIC Members Urged To Look Towards Establishing Islamic FTA
PETALING JAYA, Oct 1 (Bernama) — Governments and the private sectors of the member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) should take a qualitative leap to establish an Islamic Free Trade Area (FTA) to overcome obstacles and bottlenecks that hinder the development of trade and investment between member states.
In making the call, OIC Secretary General Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the share of Intra-OIC trade in overall trade has recorded positive improvements in the last few years.
It has risen from 10 percent in 2000 to 13.5 percent in 2003.
"Inspite of this slight increase, the share of Intra-OIC trade remains low, considering the abundant and natural resources and wealth of the Islamic world, such as energy, agriculture and industrial products," he said in his speech at the Inaugural World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) entitled "Forging New Alliances for Development and Progress", here Saturday.
He was represented by director-general of Islamic Centre for Development of Trade, Allal Rachdi.
Prof Ekmeleddin said factors hindering the expansion of trade and investment were namely tariff and administration obstacles and lack of communication and transport means and inappropriate financing schemes.
He said to achieve the objectives set by the Islamic Summits to strengthen Islamic Common Action in the economic and commercial fields, the Framework Agreement on Trade Preferences among Islamic countries was considered as the milestone that would pave way for the establishment of the Islamic Common Market.
This has been recommended by the various Islamic Summits since the eigth Islamic Summit held in Tehran since 1997.
"This stage remains a very modest progress that has been made to meet our aspirations in the field of Intra-OIC trade," he said.
He called on the private sectors of OIC member states to to play a pivotal role in the field and act as the main driving force for the strengthening of trade and business relationships between Islamic countries.
"I am confident that the new team of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce would enable it to perform its task in the most effective manner in keeping with the Islamic Common Action, especially as it is highly skilled and experienced in the economic and commercial field," he said.
Touching on the three-day WIEF, Prof Ekmelleden said such an event was the embodiment of the principal of Islamic solidarity, which gave pivotal importance to the economic field as the corner stone and driving force for enhancing the capacities and strength of peoples and states.