By Muhammed Ali Gurtas and Can Erozden
Global economic activity has been strengthening both in advanced and emerging countries, even if the growth rates fall behind pre-crisis years, Turkey's development minister said on Thursday.
Speaking at the close of the 33rd Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul, Lutfi Elvan said that recent developments and also future expectations presented a promising picture for the global economy.
"According to the IMF, the global growth rate is expected to be 3.6 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, for the years 2017 and 2018, which is higher than the last year," he said.
The Turkish minister stressed that countries, however, can minimize the impacts of crises with sound and cooperative policies.
"Our efforts on achieving a sound international financial and economic architecture should also be integrated in solid domestic and regional policies," he said, adding that none of the countries are fully self-sufficient and all of them need to trade.
He noted that barriers on tariffs and non-tariffs should be eliminated in order to reduce costs and enhance regional integration.
"We need to take all required actions immediately and to diversify our economies and decrease our dependence on raw materials and single commodities," he said. "Several member countries have succeeded in this endeavor in order to adapt their economies to the changing conditions.
The development minister said that lowering the cost of transportation could significantly increase trade volumes.
Elvan pointed that a developed and functional infrastructure not only reduces the distance but also integrates markets and links them at very low cost.
"Efficient transport corridors have an indispensible role in linking countries and regions," he said. "Fast, affordable and reliable transport networks considerably enhance trade and investment volumes which in term increase employment opportunities and improve living conditions of the people living on the routes of corridors and beyond."
Elvan said soft infrastructure including border and custom efficiency should also be upgraded.
"Customs procedures and passages should also be facilitated while we are building transport corridors.
"Transnational transport corridors" was the focus of the 33rd Ministerial Session of the COMCEC, which was established during the 3rd Islamic Summit held in 1981 and became operational in 1984.
As the highest ministerial platform for the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the second largest inter-governmental organization after the UN -- the COMCEC aims to improve economic and commercial relations among member countries. The organization has its headquarters in Ankara and is chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.