At a press conference organized for the 31st Meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz said preferential trade and regional trade agreements to be concluded between Islamic countries are not alternatives for global agreements but are supplementary to those agreements. Yılmaz added that the Trade Preferential System among the Member States of the OIC (TPS-OIC) has been approved by 12 members and the agreement will increase trade. Yılmaz said Gulf countries are some of the major markets, thus the agreement is attractive and offers a system to which various countries can be involved in the future.
Currently, trade between Islamic countries is extremely low, as it cannot exceed 20 percent of total trade and needs to be increased. Yılmaz stressed that as he mentioned at the G20 summit, if agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) do not aim to facilitate world trade in general, they will pose a global risk of increasing trade within certain regions while shutting down trade with other regions instead of establishing a more liberal trade regime globally. "However, TPS-IOC does not pose such a risk," Yılmaz said.
The OIC's total exports amounted to $2.7 trillion in 2013, while total imports were $2.3 trillion - indicating a foreign trade surplus of $433 billion. Regarding these figures, Yılmaz said member states have funding surpluses each year, and their agenda should focus on how to turn this surplus into investment. Emphasizing the suggestion of last year's COMCEC head, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to establish an Islamic gold exchange and an Islamic real estate exchange, Yılmaz said the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange in collaboration with the Capital Market Board (SPK) prepared feasibility reports following the suggestion. Yılmaz stressed that Islamic finance was one of the agenda items of the recent G20 Summit, and instruments facilitating Islamic finance should be diversified while more resources should be provided for investments. Yılmaz added that the theme for next year's meeting will be Islamic finance strategies.