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‘Islamic world should focus on innovation to boost trade’

‘Islamic world should focus on innovation to boost trade’

JAKARTA: The Islamic world should put forth new ideas and innovation-based research to recover from its economic inertia, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Tuesday.

“We are suffering not only from pervasive poverty of our people but also from a poverty of ideas on how to bring about an economic revolution to improve the lifestyles of our people,” he said while speaking at the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), being held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from Aug 2-4.

“We suffer from a poverty of ideas to facilitate our private sector within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) behind our borders, at our borders, and beyond our borders,” he added.

The forum was to be attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, he nominated Mr Dastgir to represent Pakistan on his behalf.

Emphasising the need to provide equal opportunities for all the Muslims, the commerce minister said the Muslim world had to empower future businesses by de-centralising growth so that the benefits of economic progression may trickle down.

He said Pakistan was committed to strengthening intra-OIC economic and trade cooperation to further the cause of economic integration of Muslim states leading to the establishment of a common Islamic market.

Mr Dastgir apprised the participants of the efforts Pakistan has made to integrate itself with the Muslim world in trade, logistics and economic cooperation.

Trade Preferential System of the OIC (TPS-OIC) was one of the most important projects of the organisation to foster trade among the member states, he mentioned.

This system is based on three agreements, namely the Framework Agreement, the Protocol on Preferential Tariff Scheme (PRETAS) and the Rules of Origin.

The minister said that Pakistan has already signed and ratified the required three agreements pertaining to TPS-OIC and submitted the concession list to the OIC Secretariat.

He said Pakistan has also been pursuing trade partnerships with OIC member countries through preferential trade agreements, free trade agreements and various other bilateral arrangements.

He informed the audience that Pakistan has signed and ratified the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement. “This reflects our commitment to a transparent, simple, de-regulated and private sector-driven business environment,” he said.

The minister emphasised the need for more frequent interaction among policy makers and the private sector.

He said Pakistan offered its full support to initiatives for liberalisation of trade, investment and services as well as travel facilitation between Islamic countries. He also called upon the Muslim world to join hands for deeper trade liberalisation, and for more extensive technical and knowledge collaboration in other fields of economy.

The WIEF was inaugurated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also the patron of the WIEF Foundation, made a special address at the forum.

Leaders and representatives of Kuwait, Qatar, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Algeria, Tajikistan, Jordan, Guinea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa and the Islamic Development Bank also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2016

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