BHURBAN - The Ambassadors of OIC countries Saturday renewed the call for removing all barriers to trade among member countries of OIC, saying the start of free trade among OIC countries will ensure increase in trade between the Islamic nations and the private sector has an important regard to this regard.

The Ambassadors were speaking at OIC Ambassadors Conference, arranged by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, in his address of welcome, threw light on the very objectives of holding this important conference. He said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry was desirous of having highest-level of trade among the Muslim states.

LCCi Senior Vice president Kashif Younis Meher, vice president Saeeda Nazar, convener of Sanding Committee on OIC Hasnain Reza Mirza and LCCI EC Member Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi also spoke on the occasion.

The Ambassadors said that the world was facing several challenges including poverty, hunger, terrorism, global recession, and natural disaster. They said that Islamic world is not immune to these challenges, and should come together to tackle these issues in the Islamic world by encouraging trade with one another. Speaking on the occasion, the Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said that the severe impact of terrorism on Pakistani people as well as economy has affected all the spheres of life. “Pakistan is particularly in the eye of storm for the last 10 years because of terrorism, which has not only affected it but also the entire region,” he said.

Speaking about Pakistan’s frontline role in the global war on terror, he said we had lost over 30,000 civilians and more than 9000 security personnel in the war on terror. He said Pakistani nation and business community had shown great resilience in spite of the challenges of terrorism and natural disasters and worked hard to increase exports. He said Pakistan’s exports to European Union had increased by about 30 per cent while he was serving as ambassador to EU in Brussels.

He urged the OIC member countries to invest in Pakistan to support its economy. He said Pakistan offered huge liberal incentives in various sectors like chemicals, textiles, dairy farming, agriculture, energy, etc for investment. He said the investors of the OIC countries must take advantage and make investment here.

He supported the LCCI initiative of launching research projects, saying he will encourage the other OIC member states to extend their support to it as well.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President said that the OIC is the second largest world forum after United Nations Organization. It offers an unparalleled set of competitive advantages. Undoubtedly, it is the most resourceful and the second largest economic bloc in the world with a diverse and growing consumer market. But we have witnessed that the progress towards economic integration of member countries has been rather slow.

He said that the OIC member countries have robust economic synergies to exploit and increase trade. “We all are more or less well placed on the global economic map with some exclusive features. Many of us are more than self reliant in various natural resources other than oil and gas. We all have abundant human resources, technical expertise, value added products, diverse industry, fertile arable land and etc. but we have yet to make full use of these inherent advantages through mutual cooperation,” he said.

It is high time for devising a unified strategy for enhancing trade links. Currently only five countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia account for more than 45% of intra-OIC trade.

We need to encourage more and more of OIC member countries to increase their share in intra-OIC trade. The OIC trade performance with respect to total international trade is 6% which is still short of target set at 20% till 2015.