International trade is an important catalyst for economic and social development. Enhancing international trade contributes to raising living standards, and boosting investments and employment. Many countries perceive international trade as an important tool to enhance their integration with other countries. Countries may specifically seek regional economic integrations for several reasons, such as reaching larger consumer markets for exports, creating new employment opportunities, attracting foreign direct investments and most importantly having sustainable long-term economic growth. Recently, developed countries are also eager to be a part of large multilateral trade arrangements such as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (EU-USA), Trans-Pacific Partnership (USA-13 Countries bordering Pacific Ocean), The EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement and The Expanded Economic Engagement (USA-ASEAN).
Cognizant of the importance of the subject, COMCEC has initiated various programs on trade since its establishment in 1984. Currently, there are significant programs/projects on the COMCEC agenda for increasing intra-OIC trade, such as Trade Preferential System of OIC (TPS-OIC).
Intra-OIC trade value and share have showed a remarkable ascending trend. Nominal value of the total intra-OIC trade has grown from USD 271.45 billion in 2005, to USD 694,23 billion in 2015. The share of intra-OIC trade in total OIC trade rose 15.50 % to 20.33 % in the same period.
As a new implementation mechanism of the COMCEC Strategy under trade cooperation, COMCEC Trade Working Group convenes twice annually in Ankara on selected technical themes, and serves as an important platform for exchange of views, experiences and best practices among the relevant experts of the Member Countries. In its first four meetings, the Working Group deliberated respectively on; Improving SMEs Exports, Improving SMEs Access to Trade Finance, Facilitating Intra-OIC Trade through improving Customs Procedures in the OIC Member States, Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) and Trade Liberalization Efforts in the OIC Member States with a Special Emphasis on the TPS-OIC. More information regarding the Trade Working Group Meetings could be found in the related section of COMCEC website at: http://www.comcec.org/en/cooperation-areas/trade/comcec-trade-working-groupmeetings/