Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- More than 50 finance and planning ministers from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) nations convened in Jeddah today to attend the inauguration of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, the first specialist entity dedicated to developing trade and finance in the Islamic nations.
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) aims to increase trade volume among OIC member countries; develop and finance such trade in accordance with the principle and provisions of Islamic law; and upgrade the OIC nations’ export capacity. The ITFC has an initial capital of USD 3 billion.
The ITFC’s Board of Governors announced the corporation’s opening at the ITFC’s first General Assembly Meeting in Jeddah. The meeting began with an address from H.E. Dr. Mohammad Khalfan Bin Kharbash, UAE Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs. Dr. Kharbash thanked the Saudi Arabian government for hosting the meeting, and stressed the shared need for and benefits of the ITFC.
H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Assaf, Saudi Arabian Minister of Finance and National Economy, emphasized the importance of reinforcing trade relations between the member countries and highlighted the role of the Islamic Development Bank in increasing intra-regional trade.
“The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation complements the efforts made by the IDB, and is in accordance with the initiative announced by HH King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and with suggestions made by the UAE,” Dr. Al-Assaf said. “The IFTC has been created to boost the economic development of member countries by enhancing intra-trade volumes from the current 14 per cent to as high as 20 per cent by 2015,” Dr. Al-Assaf added.
As an independent organization, the ITFC will also monitor market trends and launch specialized funds in its efforts to combat poverty and improve economic performance in the Islamic world. The ITFC will also support Islamic Development Bank investments and initiatives.
Dr. Al-Assaf said Saudi Arabia is committed to support the IDB and all its entities including ITFC as part of its strategy to boost economic and trade relations between the OIC nations.
Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, told the international delegations attending the inauguration that the establishment of ITFC is a key step in boosting economic cooperation and the first step in establishing a free trade zone between OIC member nations, and driving investment and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and resources.
Dr. Ihsanoglu urged the ITFC to coordinate with related OIC entities and to support private sector initiatives and small-sized and medium-sized projects in the member countries.
Dr Ahmed Mohammed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group, said the establishment of the ITFC was in keeping with the IDB’s commitment and thanked HH King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz for spearheading its formation.
Dr. Ali said 55 OIC nations have signed the ITFC’s Articles of Agreement, and encouraged other members to join.