OIC intra-trade to cross 20% by 2015

The President of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Ahmad Mohammed Ali, stated on Sunday that the level of intra-trade between the OIC Member States has raisin to 17 per cent and the goal that has been set by the Islamic Summit in Makkah in 2005 which required to increase the level of intra-trade between Members States over the next ten years to reach 20 per cent by 2015 is about to be achieved.

The IDB President was addressing a Donors Meeting which was hosted at IDB Headquarters to discuss the Program for Regional Cross Border Trade Facilitation and Infrastructure Project for Mashreq Countries. The objective of the Program is to enhance trade between the concerned countries and between these countries and the rest of the world.

Dr. Ali went further to say that the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) will set a new goal to raise the level of intra-trade up to 30 per cent. The President also said that the IDB is one of the earliest International Financing Institutes that helped to enhance and improve trade between Member States.

He also stated that the size of trade finance processes that the IDB implemented since 1975 was more than ($42) billion. “This is through intensive programs set by the IDB to finance exports and imports and also through The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) to improve and increase the size of trade between the Member States and between other countries over the world,” he added.

In turn Ms. Shamshad Akhtar, Vice President Middle East and North Africa Region the World Bank, who attended the meeting, addressed in her address some current issues faced by Arab economies and which affect economical situation such as persistent unemployment among the youth, low competitiveness and productivity, and low quality of education and skill base.

It is worth mentioning that the meeting looked into the possibility of financing specific projects over the next five years as part of a broader 15-year Program. Both the Program and the proposed projects are built on the recommendations of a recent World Bank’s study, which in turn took account of extensive previous work by United Nations ESCWA, the European Union (through its Euro med scheme), the World Bank and other international and bilateral organizations.

The target projects are designed to reduce trade impediments and address major transport infrastructure constraints (both physical and non-physical barriers). The World Bank has estimated that, if fully implemented, by 2020 the program could increase the total non-oil international trade of the Mashreq countries by up to $4 billion annually, and bring intra-Mashreq trade up to 22 per cent of that total (compared to the current 17 per cent).

The cost of the programme implementation is expected to be substantial. It is estimated that the proposed projects during the next five years would cost about $300 million per year, and that the overall programme would cost about $6 billion over 15 years. These amounts are beyond the capacity of any single country or investment institution and will need to be addressed collectively, with funding also being made by private investors where feasible. 

The programme will create a pipeline of projects suitable for investment under the new Arab Financing Facility for Infrastructure that was recently launched by the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank. The Facility would also provide a suitable framework for coordinating investments in this area.

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