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KARACHI: Patron-in-Chief of United Business Group (UBG) S M Muneer and President UBG Zubair Tufail have said that Pakistan plays an important role in strengthening trade and economic relations amongst the OIC member countries and it has strong and significant political relations with all Muslim countries, but these relations don’t reflect in terms of trade and economic relations despite the fact that the head office of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry is in Pakistan.

They said that the low level of trade of Pakistan with Islamic countries is because of lack of information and low level of interaction between the private sector of Pakistan and other Muslim countries. Pakistan has signed FTA with Malaysia and PTA with Indonesia and Iran while negotiations for FTA with Turkey and members of Gulf Cooperation Council are under way.

Muslim countries have enormous resources and potential which need to be explored and translated into real asset, they said. Promotion of economic linkages with the Muslim communities by creating opportunities could help generate greater flow of capital from the Islamic world, they opined.

They further said that the OIC is the second largest inter-government organization with the membership of 57 states; hence, it enjoys the status of collective voice of Muslim world to safeguard their interests in economic, social and political areas.

They said that at present the trade between Pakistan and OIC countries stood at US $ 28 billion, exports to OIC countries at US $ 5.6 billion and imports from OIC countries at US $ 22.7 billion.

They said cereal, cotton, mineral fuel, sugar, edible vegetable and fruits, textile, etc., are main items of Pakistan’s export to the OIC countries while petroleum products, animal fat, plastics, organic and inorganic chemicals, iron and steel, machinery, electrical equipment are its main items of import.

They said that the direction of trade is influenced by many factors including cost, market access, connectivity, quality, standards and competition but if business community and policymakers work together in identifying the market opportunities and addressing trade barriers, it would possibly create more opportunities for trade among OIC countries.

They said that Pakistan will have the privilege of hosting the 48th meeting of the OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers from March 22 -23 2022 which will coincide with the 75th anniversary celebrations of Pakistan Day. This event will highlight Pakistan consistent commitment to the principles and purposes of the OIC, in particular to forester greater unity and solidarity within Muslim world so as to address the multiple challenges facing the Ummah.

They demanded of all trade bodies across Pakistan to explore new avenues for promotion of trade and economic relations with Islamic countries. They suggested the trade bodies to encourage their members to intensify their interaction with their counterparts and Pakistani missions in Islamic countries.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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