‘Internal trade remedy for Islamic nations to develop’

‘Internal trade remedy for Islamic nations to develop’

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Internal trade remedy for Islamic nations to develop’

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç (C) holds a gift with TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu (L) and Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (R) at the 28th General Assembly of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul.

The 57 members of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry need to strengthen trade ties within the Islamic world, Bülent Arınç said at the 28th General Assembly of the organization.

 Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu said the group should follow a model similar to the U.S. which trades with Canada and Mexico as well as Europe, which conducts 70 percent of its trade internally.

Hisarcıklıoğlu said the Islamic world needs to act quickly to capture economic opportunities, having missed out in the post-World War II period and the fall of communism. Time is money, he said, adding that the Islamic world has produced very little despite having one-fourth of the world’s population and 57 percent of world’s economic resources.

“We are not one. We are not a union,” said Hisarcıklıoğlu in his opening speech. “Europe trades with itself and the United States trades with Canada and Mexico. Why don’t we use them as an example?” He added that the Islamic world was hampered by visa and trade restrictions, and they needed to be addressed.

Islamic world ripe for trade, investment

Hisarcıklıoğlu said three factors make the Islamic world ripe with potential; its young dynamic population, its dominance over the globe’s energy resources and its large industrial resources, which are second only to China. He also said in order to increase trade there would need to be more transportation linkages in the region, such as rail lines.

Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said in his speech that one important area the meeting might wish to focus on when examining modalities for enhanced public-private partnership in OIC countries is their favorable investment climate.

“The strength of the OIC economies is evident in the availability of a young and vibrant population … furthermore the total reserves of OIC countries are increasing, accounting for 33.1 percent of OIC GDP in 2009, with their proven oil reserves accounting for 69 percent of the world total,” said Ihsanoğlu.
“When we look at internal trade in the Islamic world, it only amounts to $540 million, and this shows we have a long road ahead,” said Arınç at the General Assembly. However, he said when looking at the economic potential of Islamic countries, a 20 percent internal trade target for 2015 did not seem too difficult. He also echoed Hisarcıklıoğlu by saying that while Europe conducts roughly 70-75 percent of its trade internally, this figure is as low as 14 percent for Islamic countries.

A group of businessmen attending the General Assembly in Istanbul is scheduled to meet with
businessmen in Turkish Cyprus today under the auspices of the TOBB.