COMCEC

Message of

H.E. DR. ABDELOUAHED BELKEZIZ, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE (OIC), AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE 17TH MEETING OF THE FolLOW-UP COMMITTEE OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE FOR ECONOMIC AND COMMERCIAL COOPERATION

Istanbul, Turkey 9-10 May, 2001

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.

I would like to express at the outset my warm greetings and fraternal sentiments to all the delegates and participants of the 17th Meeting of the Follow-up Committee of COMCEC. Let me also convey my gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Turkey for hosting this important meeting of COMCEC Follow-up Committee and for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to all the delegates.

I would also like to pay a special tribute to H.E. Mr. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the President of the Republic of Turkey and the Chairman of the COMCEC, for his wisdom and sagacity in guiding the work of the important Standing Committee of OIC.

It is a matter of great consternation that the Israeli policy of aggression continues unabated implicating on our Palestinian brothers and economic strangulation. I pay homage to the memory of the Palestinian martyrs, whose ranks are slowly but regrettably swelling with the passing days. I condemn most forcefully the Israeli acts of aggression and call upon the international community for securing international protection to the Palestinian people and for bringing pressure to bear on the Israeli Government to force it to abode by the international legitimacy through the implementation of the relevant resolutions of the UN and OIC which demand total liberation of the occupied Arab lands, return of the refugees and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

The Follow-up Committee is mandated not only to review the progress achieved in implementing the various decisions and resolutions of the preceding sessions of COMCEC, it has also to prepare the agenda for the forthcoming COMCEC session. In carrying out this task, the Follow-up Committee has the necessary latitude and flexibility in order to keep the work of COMCEC fully tuned to the need of the time. Accordingly, the Committee in the past has recommended adoption of specific measures by the COMCEC including changes in the agenda. It is an appropriate forum to undertake a thorough stock-taking of the state of implementation of the Plan of Action to Strengthen Economic and Commercial Cooperation.

Indeed, at the last meeting, the Follow-up Committee deliberated on the possible ways and means of accelerating the process of implementation of the Plan of Action and came up with a number of valuable recommendations. In this connection, the Follow-up Committee will also be examining the outcome of the meeting held in Istanbul on 6-7 May 2001 of the Experts Group Meeting for Accelerating the Implementation of the OIC Plan of Action to Strengthen Economic and Commercial Cooperation among the Member States. I believe the Follow-up Committee will assign due importance to this matter, giving it substantive consideration with a view to arriving at a set of recommendations for consideration by the 17th Session of COMCEC. I would expect that while considering the agenda for the next COMCEC session, this important matter will also be accommodated.

At the last COMCEC Session, my illustrious predecessor highlighted a number of points on the state of intra-OIC economic and commercial cooperation. Considering their critical importance, I feel I should flag them once again. In the first place, I would like to refer to the sluggish pace of the process of implementation of the OIC Plan of Action to Strengthen Economic and Commercial Cooperation among the Member States, which continues to be a matter of concern for the Member States. As I have already stated earlier, this meeting in considering the outcome of the Experts Group Meeting will hopefully be able to take necessary steps.

The expansion of intra-OIC trade is an area where decisive action on the part of the Member States is called for. Despite the current upswing in the world economy showing strong performance by most of the developed countries including the newly industrialized Asian countries, the OIC Member States, in general, have not been able to benefit from this trend failing to enlarge their share in the global trade. Intra-OIC trade continues to remain stagnated around 10 per cent of the total global trade of the Member States. While a great deal has been said on the importance of the expansion of intra-OIC trade, not much progress has been achieved. Since the Eighth Islamic Summit Conference in Tehran, Member States have also been reiterating the importance of the establishment of an Islamic Common Market as their ultimate goal. In the context of globalisation and liberalization, one cannot deny the importance of achieving this goal. I would like to mention here that a number of schemes and projects aimed at strengthening commercial cooperation is in place, which are intended to promote intra-OIC trade. Mention may be made in particular of the Framework Agreement on Trade Preferential System Among OIC Member States. I urge Member States, which have not yet done so to sign and ratify this Agreement.

There are a number of other agreements and statutes aimed at providing a legal framework for collaboration in intra-OIC economic cooperation, investments and joint ventures, and strengthening of the private sector cooperation. I would also urge the Member States to sign and ratify these other agreements/statutes as well.

The role of the private sector in the promotion of intra-OIC trade and economic cooperation has been emphasized in the recent resolutions of the Islamic Summits and Islamic Conferences of Foreign Ministers. It goes without saying that a propitious conditions will have to be created for the private sector to play its expected role.

It is important in this connection, to ensure speedy implementation of decisions and recommendations of Meetings of Private Sector of OIC Member States. The Committee established by the 15th Session of COMCEC for the follow up of implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the Private Sector Meetings should play an important role in achieving these objectives.

I am convinced that these issues and other related ones will undergo thorough deliberations at this Meeting, which will lead to important conclusions. It would thus provide valuable inputs for the forthcoming session of COMCEC to be held in Istanbul in October this year.

Before concluding, I would like to express my happiness over the useful intellectual contributions in the deliberations of the meeting made by the relevant OIC institutions by submitting their valuable reports. Let me assure the distinguished delegates of the fullest cooperation of the OIC General Secretariat and all OIC institutions in fulfilling the tasks of the Follow-up Committee.

I wish the 17th Meeting of the Follow-up Committee of COMCEC great success.

Wassalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.