Poor logistics, barriers snag trade among OIC countries

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Poor logistics, barriers snag trade among OIC countries

The second OIC-Asia Trade and Economic Forum being held here as part of the OIC World Biz 2013 has identified trade barriers, poor logistics and lack of information about opportunities among member countries as the main issues affecting intra trade among the OIC countries.

By T.k. Devasia

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Published: Sat 28 Sep 2013, 10:22 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:37 AM

The container port of Tanjung Pelepas. Malaysia is planning to expand its trade and business links with the Middle East. — AFP

Speakers at a session on the ‘role of trade and investment in economic development’ noted that disparities among OIC countries that boasts of a total trading volume worth $3.4 trillion and annual exports of $1.9 trillion were widening due to lack of adequate cooperation between the countries. The OIC has set a target of increasing intra trade from the existing 18 per cent to 20 per cent by 2015.

El Hassane HZaine, director general of OIC’s Morocco-based Islamic Centre for Development and Trade (ICDT) said the main impediments in enhancing intra trade were tariff obstructions, weak governance including lack of transparency and complex licensing procedures.

He called for building strong regional communities that can gradually grow into a kind of federation. They should rely more on domestic and regional markets as well as manufacturing. This will not only ensure regional self-reliance but also help OIC countries insulate their economies against global turbulences. HZaine pointed out that the global economic downtrend was affecting some of the OIC economies, which rely on exports to Europe and North America and tourist inflow from the region.

“OIC is doing everything to expand trade. Last week, OIC-China Expo and Economic and Trade Forum held in the Chinese city of Yinchuan decided to revive the Silk Road trade,” he said.

“Malaysia has showed the world how countries can change, from exporter of raw materials to exporter of hi-tech products. It can play a great role in this.”

Inaugurating the summit on Wednesday, Malaysian Minister for Trade and Industry Musthafa Mohammed said that his country was planning to expand its trade and business links with the Middle East, including the UAE.

He said the country had decided to open trade promotion centres in UAE, Qatar and Oman in this connection.

UAE is Malaysia’s largest trading partner in the Middle East. The trade with the UAE went up from $6.8 billion 2011 to $8.0 billion in 2012. The county has identified education, electronics and energy for expanding trade links with the UAE.

Musthafa said the Muslim world was emerging as a new global target for international corporations. “With a population of about 1.6 billion, the Muslim market represents a high level of economic power, population growth, and propensity to consume based on its rich natural resources.”

The minister said Malaysia was exploring new markets as part of the country’s efforts to become a developed nation by 2020.

“Malaysia is today the hub of Islamic finance. We are trying to make it a business hub of the OIC by moving up in the value-added production chain, attracting investments in Islamic finance, high technology industries, biotechnology and services,” he added.

An estimated 60 countries, 900 delegates and 500 exhibitors are participating in the fourth edition of the annual event that expects to receive 80,000 footprints from around the globe over the course of the four days, especially at the trade exhibitions.

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