Ministerial Economic and Commercial Committee for Islamic Cooperation

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The meetings of the 38th edition of the Economic and Trade Ministerial Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) kicked off in Istanbul on Monday, and will last for two days.

In the Istanbul Convention Center, the inaugural session was held, which was chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his capacity as Chairman of the Standing Committee, in the presence of officials of 54 Islamic countries, with the participation of states as observers, as well as the participation of international organizations and institutions.

The Turkish President delivered a speech during the opening session in which he hoped that the meetings would benefit the meeting before the ministers continued their meeting and dealt with the specific agenda, as it is expected that the deliberations will be completed tomorrow, Tuesday.

According to the agenda of the committee’s meetings, it will discuss the implementation of the work program, economic developments in the Islamic world, issues of trade and economic cooperation, the role of the private sector in it, deepening financial cooperation, and improving the transportation and communications sector.

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The meeting ministers will also discuss the issue of sustainability, oversight, and developments in the tourism sector, as well as the issue of productivity in the agricultural sector, food security, combating poverty, digital transformation, and social support in light of the Corona crisis.

Hussein Ibrahim Taha, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said in his speech: “I thank the government and people of Turkey for making the necessary arrangements for the success of today’s meeting.”

He added, “The session is taking place at a time when we are still feeling the effects of confronting the Corona pandemic, as strict measures were taken, and our countries suffered because of them huge job losses, economic downturn, and a decline in import, export, and tourism, which threw a large number of people into poverty.”

And he indicated that “before overcoming the effects of Corona, the war broke out in Ukraine, and we congratulate President Erdogan for his role in the initiative to ensure the transit of Ukrainian grain, otherwise the food situation in the world would have been worse.”

He added, “What happened shows the need for Islamic countries to provide food security and for countries to formulate a plan for economic recovery that leads to economic advancement and development.”

And he indicated that “the world is going through difficult times, as economies have been affected, unemployment rates have risen, and the number of children on the streets and drop-outs is increasing, and the countryside still lacks basic ingredients.”

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He called for focusing on increasing investment in vital sectors, implementing the work programs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, building relationships of synergy between countries rich in technologies and financial and natural resources, establishing a fund for emerging projects and supporting youth.

The COMCEC was established as the Fourth Committee among the Standing Committees of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the Third Islamic Summit Conference held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah/Taif in 1981.

It entered into force at the Fourth Islamic Summit Conference held in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1984, with the election of the President of the Republic of Turkey to be the President of the COMCEC.

For his part, Majid Al-Qasabi, Saudi Minister of Commerce, delivered a speech on behalf of the Arab countries in the committee

Al-Qasabi said, “In the face of the great challenges the world is going through, the convening of the session comes as an opportunity to redouble efforts and expand horizons of cooperation among member states in all economic fields.”

He added, “Achieving economic and development integration among Islamic countries, which requires maximizing the optimal use of our capabilities and capabilities as Islamic countries united by the bond of religion, brotherhood, and a common destiny to face the challenges the world is experiencing.”

He stressed, “In line with the decisions of the COMCEC Ministerial Session, which included that the title of the session be to effectively provide social assistance and social and economic empowerment in light of the Corona pandemic, the Kingdom has played its pioneering role in assisting the affected countries in various parts of the world and in the Islamic world.”

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He concluded by saying, “The organization’s work program until 2025 has reached an advanced stage of implementation, stressing the importance of the active participation of member states to include the organization’s programs among its priorities, which ensures the achievement of the goals of the committee.”

Zubair Dada of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a speech on behalf of the African countries, while the Minister of Economy and Finance from Brunei Darussalam, Amin Leo Abdullah, delivered a speech on behalf of the Asian countries, saying, “On behalf of the delegations of the Asian countries members of the Islamic Cooperation Council, we thank Turkey for hosting.”

Amin Leo Abdullah said: “Our meeting today is taking place in the midst of economic turmoil, the consequences of the Covid pandemic, and geopolitical developments, and we have an opportunity to review the challenges and achieve changes for societies for those who have no work.”

On the other hand, Muhammad Suleiman Al-Jasser, President of the Islamic Development Bank, said: “The negative repercussions of Covid 19 were not limited to the health sector, but rather led to a sharp economic downturn and threw an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty in the world, half of whom are estimated to be in the countries of the Organization.”