OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
REPORT ON THE
ACTIVITIES OF THE ISLAMIC CHAMBER
23rd Session of the COMCEC
14 – 17 NOVEMBER, 2007
ISTANBUL – REPUBLIC OF TURKEY
In implementation of the OIC 10-Year Programme of Action (PoA) adopted during the Third Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Conference held on December 7-8, 2005 in Makkah, OIC Institutions have been mandated to undertake activities which would lead to the successful implementation of the said PoA.
In line with the task assigned to the Islamic Chamber, it has prepared a Work Plan, which focuses on the challenges being faced by the Islamic World, which include low growth rate of economic development, commercial exchanges, poverty, low degree of economic cooperation, lack of updated information, absence of a networking mechanism and financing.
Projects of the Islamic Chamber:
In order to achieve the above objectives, Islamic Chamber has initiated a few projects through a well integrated plan. These projects broadly, deal with increase of intra-OIC trade and investments, exchange of manpower, development of tourism, youth and education. These projects will be implemented through Companies, which will be set-up with the participation of private sector, with the objective that within a span of 3 to 5 years they become profit generating companies. The rationale behind this concept is to involve the private sector to contribute in strengthening the economic ties.
Towards this end, Projects that have already been established are: (1) International Zakat Foundation, (2) ICCI Waqf Fund, (3) International Islamic Company for Exploration of Investment Opportunities for promotion of intra-trade, (4) Business Owners Association (BOA) and (5) Al-Emmar Bank
A brief summary on progress achieved so far with an appeal to Honorable Members, to ask their chambers and private sector to actively support the projects and to further strengthen the Islamic Chamber that are aimed for strengthening economic cooperation.
1. International Zakat Foundation
• It was established upon initiative of the Islamic Chamber and launched by H.E. The Prime Minister of Malaysia. Primary consent from some of the Countries for the establishment of local Zakat organization branches.
• The International Conference on Zakat was held in November 2006 in Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia and attended by a number of Ministers and Senior Officials from the following countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brunei Darussalam, Syria, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain and U.A.E.
• An MOU for the establishment of the International Zakat Foundation has been signed with the Government of Malaysia, IDB, ICCI, General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions
• H.E. Abdullah Badawi, OIC Chairman announced the establishment of the International Zakat Foundation with its Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
• In pursuance of the recommendations of the Zakat Conference in Malaysia, a seminar was held by the Islamic Fiqh Forum in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain from 18-20 Rabi Al-Thani corresponding to 5-7 May 2007, to discuss the major Islamic concepts for the activities of the International Zakat Foundation. The conference endorsed the establishment of this Organization.
• Agreements have been signed for the establishment of branches of the International Zakat Foundation in Republic of Benin, Republic of Senegal and Islamic Republic of Mauritania
2. ICCI Waqf Fund:
• An agreement has been made for the Bye-Laws and the Standing Orders of the WAQF.
• Correspondences and contacts are being made with Ministries of Auqaf for the endorsement of the Standing Orders and establishment of WAQF Funds.
• Correspondences and contacts are being made with leading businessmen from Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. for contribution and donations for the WAQF.
3. International Islamic Company for Exploration of Investment Opportunities & Promotion of Intra-Trade (FORAS):
• The capital was established with US$100 million.
• The feasibility study and business plans have been prepared.
• Five investment maps for five Islamic countries have been prepared.
• Six new companies are under establishment and incubated to operate in the fields of agriculture, pharmaceutical, energy, technical methods.
4. Business Owners Association (BOA):
• The Standing Orders of the Business Owners Association are adopted.
• Contacts for approval of BOA privileges to its members, are under process with the concerned authorities after being officially endorsed by the States as well as the companies.
• Contacts for soliciting membership were made to the following countries (Pakistan, Indonesia, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Benin, Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Yemen and Mauritania).
5. Al-Emmar Bank:
The feasibility study plan has been prepared by an international company and Meetings with the officials of Ministries of Finance and Central Banks of the Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Bahrain and Egypt have been held. Preparatory meetings of the founding share holders were held in Jeddah and Malaysia. Meetings at the technical and technological levels were held with Saudi Capital Market Authority, Securities & Commodities Authorities U.A.E. and Deloitt Company). One of the GCC state has given initial approval for the Standing Orders of the Bank.
Other Activities of the Islamic Chamber
(i) Private Sector Meetings: Since 1994, Islamic Chamber is regularly organizing these meetings. Within the Islamic World, it was a pioneering concept introduced by the Islamic Chamber to provide a common platform for the private sector of the Islamic countries to converge, meet and discuss areas of mutual cooperation, to find new markets, new investment areas and new trading partners. Till now 11 Private Sector Meetings has been held, while the 12th Private Sector Meeting which was scheduled to be held in Senegal from 23-25 November 2007 was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances and now would be held in 2008.
(ii) First Forum of Tourism: Islamic Chamber in cooperation with the Supreme Commission for Tourism of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce & Industry has organized the First Forum of Tourism in Islamic Countries Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 30-31 October 2007. The Forum was held under the kind patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Naief Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Minister of Interior and Chairman, Board of Directors of the Supreme Commission for Tourism. The theme of the Forum was “Towards Integration of Tourism among Islamic Countries”.
(iii) Businesswomen Forums: Realizing the economic potential among the businesswomen and also to endorse the Millennium Development Goals on gender issues the Islamic Chamber has initiated a program in 2005 for the economic empowerment of businesswomen of the Islamic Countries. This has been done by holding Businesswomen Forums in Islamic Countries on annual basis. So far two Meetings have been held, First in Sharjah, U.A.E. in March 2005 and the Second was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 8-10 December, 2006. Both these Meetings have been held with the collaboration of the Islamic Development Bank, the related local chambers and Women Associations. The Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SU-SSC), UNDP also extended financial support for the 2nd Businesswomen Forum. The 3rd Businesswomen Forum under the theme of “Micro-Financing … the way forward for market conquest” would be held in Doha - State of Qatar from 13-15 January 2008 under the kind patronage of HRH Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser Al-Misnad, wife of HRH the Emir of Qatar.
These Forums provided an opportunity to the Businesswomen of the OIC Countries for interaction and discussing new areas of cooperation and business. The recommendations put forward by these Forums identified the areas where assistance is required, such as capacity building, access to finance, marketing, management and availability of information.
In order to encourage entrepreneurship and to bring businesswomen in the mainstream, of economic cooperation, Islamic Chamber organized a Workshop on “Entrepreneurship Development” in Karachi in March 2006. While the 2nd Workshop on “Marketing and Packaging of Agro-Products” was held in Khartoum – Republic of Sudan from 25-29 August 2007. This workshop was attended by 80 participants from 6 OIC Member countries including Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, Senegal and the Republic of Sudan.
(iv) OIC Businesswomen Information Network (www.oic-bin.net): Islamic Chamber in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank is developing a dedicated web portal to address the issue of providing a networking platform and statistical information about the businesswomen in OIC Countries. The web portal design has been completed and would officially be launched during the 3rd Businesswomen Forum.
(v) ICCI-DataBank: As a mechanism to bridge the gap of information and for Trade Facilitation and providing Trade Information, Islamic Chamber is setting up an ICCI-DataBank, which would provide comprehensive information about the strengths of OIC Member Countries, especially about industries, trade, agriculture and would also provide information about the investment opportunities in the Islamic world. The objective is to collect up-to-date economic data and the mission is to disseminate statistical information year-wise on commodities and countries. It would also collect and disseminate information about the Exporters, Importers, and Manufacturers along with their list of products. It would provide information about Financial Institutions and Banks; Trade Fairs and Exhibitions; joint venture projects; business opportunities; investment regulations of each and every OIC Member Countries. This project is being set up with the technical and financial support of UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and Islamic Development Bank.
(vi) Technology Transfer: Islamic Chamber is also Collaborating with SS-GATE System in implementation of a broad project of UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation Technology for exchanges of assets, equity, technology, and financial resources among SMEs in developing countries. The project focuses on three main pillars: policy development and mainstreaming of South-South cooperation, promotion of public-private partnership for poverty reduction, and knowledge management. The system has been developed, and in the first-phase the Participating Organizations (POs) from Turkey and Pakistan have been appointed and been trained on the system. The main thrust of the project is to transfer technology from South to South countries.
(vii) Incubation Center: As per the role assigned to the ICCI by the COMCEC for implementation of the project on “Incubator Management Training in Islamic Countries”, ICCI has initiated contacts with Incubation Centers in OIC Member Countries. KOSGEB and ICCI have held several meetings in this regard and have finalized the Terms of Reference for the organization of a Workshop and Forum for the Managers in Ankara-Republic of Turkey in August 2008.
In addition to this, Islamic Chamber has recently signed a MoU with Sudanese Businessmen Employers Federation for the establishment of “Business and Technology Incubation Center” in Republic of Sudan. A technical meeting was held between ICCI and Innovation Relay Center and Metutech (Technopark) of Turkey during which the latter agreed to provide:
1. Technical resources for the establishment of Agro-Fruit Processing Incubation Center in Sudan; and
2. Provide Training to the Managers of Incubation Centers.
(viii) Centers of Excellence: ICCI is also pursuing in the implementation of the OIC Five-Year Plan of Action to Strengthen and Promote Trade, Investment and Research in the fields of Cotton and related Textile Industries in the OIC Member States. In order to move forward Islamic Chamber proposes for the appointment of “Centers of Excellence” in Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Mali. To realize this concept, ICCI hold a sideline meeting in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Trade and Industry and representatives of Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB); Middle East Technical University Technopark (METUTECH); Nazili Cotton Research Institute (Turkey); Textile Research Center (Turkey); Pakistan, Egypt, Mali and Burkina Faso. The fruitful discussion held during the meeting led to the formulation of Terms of Reference (ToR) and concrete recommendations which were submitted to the Cotton Forum for onward submission to the 23rd Session of the COMCEC.
(ix) Formulation of a strategy based on Recommendations of the Meetings of OIC Task Force on SMEs: The OIC Task Force on SMEs was established to study and analyze the needs, problems and future requirements of SMEs in OIC Countries and to devise strategies for its development. Accordingly, ICCI with the cooperation and support of IDB, Member Chambers and SMEs Authorities, has organized 5 meetings. During these Meetings problems and constraints of SMEs in OIC Countries have been examined and some remedial measures have been identified.
Since the Task Force has reached its objectives, both in terms of goals and targets, hence, the last and final Meeting of the OIC Task Force on SMEs will be held in Lahore – Pakistan, from 23-26 March 2008, wherein the members of Task Force would review the recommendations of all the previous meetings and would:
a. Devise a strategy based on prioritizing the recommendations, as a way forward.
b. Prepare a complete and comprehensive Program of Action with short, medium and long-term goals would be prepared in accordance with the OIC 10-Year PoA.
c. Define the role of each institutions at the level of OIC, its institutions, and the private sector
d. In addition, Islamic Chamber is also pursuing the establishment of a network for OIC SME Development Agencies (ONSA), which is one of the recommendations, emerged during the Task Force Meetings.
(x) Investment and Privatization Conference: With the objective of enhancing intra-investment level, and to encourage private sector participation in the privatization process, Islamic Chamber is organizing these Conferences on regular basis on the invitation of the OIC Member Countries. The 3rd Conference would be held in Tehran – Islamic Republic of Iran in March 2008.
(xi) International Islamic Economic, Cultural and Tourism Conference: Under the kind patronage of H.E. General Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Kingdom of Thailand - an observer member of OIC, the 2nd International Islamic Economic, Cultural & Tourism Conference was jointly organized by the Islamic Chamber, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Government of Kingdom of Thailand and Thai Islamic Trade & Industrial Association (TITIA - an observer member of ICCI), at Bangkok - Kingdom of Thailand on 7-9 September 2007. The Conference provided an opportunity for the Muslim business community to interact with its counterparts in other Islamic Countries. The Conference was attended by over 300 foreign and local delegates representing 23 OIC Member Countries.
(xii) ICCI’s Cooperation with Other OIC Institutions: In order to give further impetus to its activities and also to assist other OIC Institutions, Islamic Chamber has very close working relations with the Institutions. Islamic Chamber would like to express its deep appreciation and gratitude to:
• The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Conference and particularly to His Excellency the Secretary General, for taking keen interest in the activities of the Islamic Chamber and gracing us with his presence during different events of the Islamic Chamber.
• The Islamic Development Bank and all its departments namely ICIEC, ICD, IRTI, WID Unit and Trade and Finance Department are playing an important role in assisting Islamic Chamber in carrying out its activities. The General Secretariat appreciates their efforts in this respect and conveys it’s thanks to H.E. Dr. Ahmed Mohammad Ali, for taking personal interest in the activities of the Islamic Chamber.
In order to coordinate and support the activities of the ISESCO, ICCI has signed a MoU for the promotion of education in OIC Member States and development of curricula.
ICCI has also signed a MoU with the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF) for undertaking joint programs coming within the scope of activity of both institutions.
Future Activities of the Islamic Chamber are as follows:
• The 3rd Forum for the Businesswomen would be held in Doha – State of Qatar on 13-15 January 2007 under the kind patronage of HRH Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser Al-Misnad, wife of HRH the Emir of Qatar.
• The 6th OIC Task Force Meeting on SMEs would be held in Lahore on 24-26 March 2008.
• Workshop on “Promotion of Export Processing of Value-Added Fishery Products” to be held in Republic of Benin in March 2008.
• Workshop on “Coffee Processing” to be held in Uganda in March 2008.
• Workshop on “Hand-made Tiles” to be held in Lahore-Pakistan in April 2008.
• Workshop on “Small-scale Food Processing” to be held in Islamabad-Pakistan in April 2008.
• Workshop on “Storage” to be held in Bosnia-Herzegovina in May 2008.
• Networking workshop for Cotton Producing Countries “Centers of Excellence” to be held in Ankara-Republic of Turkey in August 2008.
• Forum and training workshop for “Incubator Management Training in Islamic Countries” to be held in Ankara-Republic of Turkey in August 2008.
• Workshop on “Oilseed Processing for Small-Scale Producers” to be held in African Region in September 2008.
• Workshop on Agro-Processing “Guava” to be held in Nigeria in September 2008.
• 4th Businesswomen Forum to be held in Damascus-Syria in November 2008.
• Workshop on “Export Competitiveness” to be held in Lebanon in November 2008.
• The 12th Private Sector Meeting of the Islamic Chamber in 2008.
• 3rd Investment and Privatization Conference to be held in Tehran-Iran in March 2008.
• 3rd International Islamic, Economic, Cultural and Tourism Conference in 2008.
The General Secretariat of the Islamic Chamber is hopeful that the new strategy would receive due consideration by the member countries and these projects would play a role in increasing exchange of trade and joint venture investment among the OIC Countries and would help in achieving a percentage of 20% of the overall trade volume during the said period.
The tasks undertaken by the General Secretariat of the Islamic Chamber are its efforts to promote and strengthen economic cooperation and at the same time to implement the tasks assigned to it in the OIC 10-year Plan of Action. However, the initiatives of the Islamic Chamber are a part of the joint strategy and hence their effective implementation also needs collective efforts.
Through this august house, the Islamic Chamber appeals to the Honorable Members to call upon their chambers and private sector to strengthen Islamic Chamber, by actively taking part in its activities and support the projects of the Islamic Chamber that are initiated with an aim for strengthening economic cooperation. The private sector may also come forward with their views of how they can assist the Islamic Chamber in implementing its projects.
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