Ummatic Trade Barriers

The Muslim world, however else it is interconnected by history, culture and religion, largely doesn’t trade with itself today. In 2004, about a sixth of all imports and exports were traded within the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (with nearly all of its 57 member states being Muslim-majority countries); by contrast, after nearly a decade-and-a-half of the internal market, two-thirds of imports and exports were traded internally within the European Union. [1]

Currently the OIC is in the process of setting up a preferential trading system, which is to launched in 2009. It has set a modest target of increasing intra-OIC trade to 20% over the next ten years.

It’s a poignant indication of how insubstantial all this pan-Islamic rhetoric really can be sometimes.


[1] For the OIC, 16% of imports and 15% of exports were traded internally in 2004; for the EU-25, 65% of imports and 68% of exports were traded internally in the same year. These figures have been derived from Eurostat and SESRTCIC.



Filed under Umma

6 responses to “Ummatic Trade Barriers

  1. Salaams Yahya,

    Spot on with your point. This can also be extended. Take for example the following points

    – The movement of people between states especially for economic reasons

    – The giving of development aid from richer to poorer states

    – The management of conflicts between states.

    These are three issues that EU has also had to tackle.
    I suspect if a similair analysis was done on each of these points, an even poorer record would emerge from the OIC.

    The question then arises, what do we do about it? My point is that regardless of whether some sort of father-christmas type magical Caliph did appear, these issues still can be looked at now.

  2. Yep, this about sums it up.

    For a few more statistical references to the poverty of intra-Arab trade etc, take a look at the following, taken from the recent Blue Paper from the Euromed partnership of the EU and the non-Balkan countries with a Mediterranean littoral. For reference, the MEDA-12 means Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Cyprus and Malta joined the EU on 1st May 2004 but fall in the scope of the Blue Paper. Breakdown of MEDA-12 Trade in 2002 shows that trade with EU accounted for 48.0%, the Rest of the World, 45.4% and internal MEDA-12 trade, 6.6%.

  3. Dear Musab and DNS, salams,
    These figures are revealing. I suspect if you took OIC members from other parts of the world, one would find not dissimilar statistics. For EU-MEDA-12 you might exchange ASEAN with the major economies like the US, China, Japan and the EU-25.

    In 2005, for ASEAN, comprising of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, PDR Lao, Malaysia, Myammar, The Phillipines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, had:

    Exports — internal, 25.3%; external, 74.7%
    Imports — internal, 24.5%; external, 75.5%

    Exports to USA/Japan/EU-25/China, 45.1%
    Imports from USA/Japan/EU-25/China, 45.6%.

  4. Salams, Musab,

    Does Islamic Relief have any analysis or statistics on these other three points vis-a-vis the OIC countries?

    Salams, yahya

  5. George Carty

    Isn’t OIL the fundamental problem with the Islamic world?

    (In that its revenues prop up despotic regimes, and because the “Dutch Disease” prevents modernization of Muslim-world economies?)

  6. Foo

    The economic value might be a little pathetic, but growing business links through the Islamic Chambers of Commerce (capitalist ISocs? oh dear) is a regular conduit of familiarisation in certain spheres.
    check this

    A lot of the countries havent had much to sell untill recently in terms of value added goods. Thats changing, especially in Asia.

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