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Posted on on October 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ihsanoglu emphasizes the role of regional groupings as building blocks for economic integration.

The Committee for Economic and Trade Co-operation (COMCEC) of the OIC, just met in Istanbul, October 5 – 8, 2010, for its 26th time, under the chairmanship of Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

From Tunisia we learn – Mr. Abdessalem Mansour Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, led the Tunisian delegation to works of the 26th edition of the Organization of Islamic Conference’s permanent Committee for Economic and Trade Co-operation (COMCEC) held, from October 5 to 8 in Istanbul, in Turkey. The session focused on several themes pertaining to agriculture, rural development, consolidation of the program aimed at guaranteeing food security and boosting economic and trade co-operation between Islamic countries.

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu underscored the important role of regional groupings as building blocks for achieving economic integration in Islamic countries. In the meantime he described trade liberalization as the most viable mechanism for promoting productivity, economy of scale, transfer of technology, regional cooperation and socio-cultural understanding.

Ihsanoglu said this at the opening ceremony of the Twenty-Sixth Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the OIC (COMCEC) on 7 October 2010 in Istanbul. He urged OIC Member States to consider supporting the numerous capacity-building programs undertaken by the various OIC institutions as this will certainly pave the way for aligning national trade policies to enhance intra-OIC cooperation in the domain of trade.

He noted that the Twenty-Sixth Session of COMCEC will have the unique opportunity of examining the various achievements so far realized in the implementation of the various economic programs of the OIC, and prescribing ways and means of realizing the objectives set by the OIC Ten Year Program of Action in the economic field during the remaining five-year period as its agenda is anchored on the promotion of intra-OIC Trade and the eradication of poverty among the vulnerable segments of the OIC community. The promotion of intra-OIC trade has the objective of increasing competitiveness and value-addition to enable wealth creation and increased agro-industrial productivity, he added.

The Secretary General stated that the increased activities of the relevant OIC trade organs, namely the Islamic Centre for the Development of Trade (ICDT) and the International Islamic Trade Financing Corporation (ITFC) have contributed to the progressive improvement of intra-OIC trade from US$271.45 billion in 2004 to US$551 billion in 2008 (i.e., from 14.5% in 2004 to 16.6% in 2009 of the total trade) and the OIC will actualize the objective of attaining the target of 20% of intra-OIC trade in 2015.

He mentioned that there is a need to increase competitiveness in OIC countries which is closely related to the new focus on fostering cooperation in the agriculture and food sector. Ihsanoglu cited the example of OIC Cotton Action Plan which has succeeded in reviewing and approving sixteen projects that have been submitted for further action at the level of relevant funding institutions.

He also emphasized the need for OIC Member States to venture into food security and agricultural development programs since 41 out of the 57 Member States of OIC are considered as food deficit countries. He declared that these countries received food aid averaging about 11% of the Official Development Assistance to developing countries, even as they continue to require an estimated annual amount of US$24.5 billion to make up for their food deficits.

The Secretary General also stressed on the need to involve the private sector, national specialized agencies, and other regional actors in the elaboration, execution and monitoring processes of the envisaged development projects.

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