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Extending farm trade among OIC members
Siraj-ul-hasan

ARTICLE (January 02 2003) : About two decades ago, OIC was pretty eager to develop intra-trade in agricultural commodities and inputs among Islamic countries.
The first ministerial level conference on food security and agricultural development in the Islamic countries was held under the auspices of OIC in Ankara in October, 1981, which made elaborate deliberations for the purpose.

Accordingly, the government of Pakistan was requested to initiate an in-depth study on the "increase of intra-trade in agricultural commodities and agricultural inputs within the Islamic world, including the institution of perforated arrangements."

The proposed study was undertaken by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MNFA) in its Department of Agricultural Marketing and Grading.

After dealing the subject matter at length, it was concluded in the report that the development, of trade among the Islamic countries, as envisaged, would require collection of some detailed information like the existing intra-trade among them, the project of their requirement in the light of the production plans, the consumer's preference, the seasonal needs, the poor structure, available transport facilities etc.

It is, therefore, necessary to undertake various marketing studies for the purpose. Finally, the report also suggested a number of topics for the marketing studies as under:

i)    Destinations of exports of various agricultural items and inputs by individual Islamic countries.
ii)    Sources of imports of different agricultural items into various Islamic countries.
iii)   Preferential treatments both with regard to imports and exports presently enjoyed by various Islamic countries.
iv)   Consumers preferences in the importing countries.
v)    Seasonal requirements in the importing countries.
vi)   Seasons of production of various items in the exporting countries.
vii)  Quality standards of products of the exporting countries.
viii) Quality and hygienic requirements of the importing countries.
ix)   Packing and packaging requirements of the importing countries.
x)    Constraints like bilateral trade agreements with other countries, higher export/import costs and uncompetitive incidental expenses, including cost of transportation.
xi)   Price differentials.
xii)  Tariff and non-tariff measures both in the exporting and importing countries.
xiii) Balance of trade and balance of payment position of Islamic exporting and importing countries, with other countries of the world.

The report also identified the need to have a set-up under the OIC to deal with marketing and trade. It should be able to collect, compile and collect information on the following:

a) The status of present trade among the Muslim countries.
b) The present scope of trade in qualitative and terms and the seasonal needs related to their availability in the countries concerned.
c) The present constraints in the trade and the means to remove them, and
d) The need and scope of preferential treatment among Muslim countries within the context of the existing trade agreements of these countries with other countries or their groups.

Since it is not known as to how did OIC react on the recommendations of the report in question, it seems that OIC's eagerness to develop intra-trade among Islamic states has increased.

As majority, nay, nearly all of the Islamic countries have basically an agricultural economy, OIC should not sleep over such an important matter. It should have access to its useful ideas in this regard that have been in the wilderness and strive to make an urgent headway in the manner considered viable.

Soruce: Business Recorder

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