The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should focus on efforts to establish a more business-friendly environment and lay the groundwork to boost trade among member states, the group's secretary-general said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 35th Ministerial Meeting of the OIC's Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), Yusuf el-Useymin underlined that obstacles to trade between OIC countries also hamper foreign direct investments.
"Member states should make more efforts to create a business-friendly environment where businessmen can easily engage in international trade," Useymin said.
"We need to do our best to overcome investment-related issues as much as possible, and to make the best use of existing opportunities."
He stressed that figures could be improved if development efforts were better supported and by focusing on diversified economic fields.
Member countries should develop strategies to boost tourism, he added.
Bandar Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, said OIC member states face hurdles in agriculture and food systems, including social, economic, institutional, environmental, and technological challenges.
He highlighted bank initiatives to help member countries boost food production and improve quality.
Hajjar also recommended that OIC member states work collectively to achieve sustainable food systems, thus ensuring food security.
"I have the honor to inform you that Turkey will host the Islamic Development Bank Forum for Public-Private Partnership at the end of February 2020 in Istanbul under the patronage of the Turkish president," he said.
Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the chairman of Turkey's Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), said trade is a unifying power which promotes peace.
Stressing that members should strive to mutually lift obstacles to boost trade, he said the trade ratio between Islamic countries had reached 20%.
"An arbitration center, established by the cooperation of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA) and TOBB, will start operations in Istanbul."
This center will pave the way for investment and trade to expand and become more attractive, he added.
Hisarciklioglu underlined that preferential trade agreements should be actualized as soon as possible.
COMCEC, which is headquartered in Turkey’s capital Ankara and chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was established during the third Islamic summit held in 1981 and became operational in 1984.
As the highest ministerial platform for the OIC -- the second-largest inter-governmental organization after the UN -- COMCEC aims to improve economic and commercial ties among member states.
By Tuba Sahin