In order to ensure the target of US$500 billion trade in the region, D8 Business Forum called for removing trade barriers among member states.
D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation, also known as Developing-8, is an organisation for development co-operation among the following countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey.
The organization urged on the withdrawal of trade barriers among member states to ensure the target in the 10th D8 Summit 2021, held in Dhaka on 5th April (Monday).
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in partnership with the D-8 Chamber of Commerce and Industries (D-8 CCI) organised the event.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam also attended the programme.
Speakers called for better connectivity and collaboration among the member states will promote common economic growth.
In addition, D-8 nations currently conduct trade amounting to $1.6 trillion each year, of which just 6.5 per cent is among themselves.
Trade among the eight nations amounted to $110 billion whereas the capacity is $700 billion, according to a Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) statement.
The nations could not sign a PTA or free trade agreement among themselves even though their leaders are always putting emphasis on signing such deals, added the ministers and business entrepreneurs.
Addressing the discussion, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said D-8 member states should aim at promoting intra-trade and investment innovation by leveraging the commonalities.
D8 countries need common investment policies, guidelines, and strategies including diasporas investment opportunities and work for minimising tariff and non-tariff barriers, he added.
Dr Momen emphasized the need for enhanced connectivity and collaboration for businesses saying that this will ensure safe and sustainable outputs and profit margins.
The statute of the D-8 CCI calls for such cooperation among the member states through forging economic integration to ensure social development, he added.
The minister said presently the world is facing uncertainty in all aspects because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“The UN has estimated that the global economy is expected to lose nearly 8.5 trillion dollars in output over the next two years. The leaders of the business sector have a special responsibility and challenge to help the global economy turn around in this time of pandemic”, he added.
The minister notes that to tap into the inherent growth potentials of the D8 region, D-8 CCI can play the key role through effective collaboration and partnership with their government sector in addition to their own networking mechanism.
“The total GDP of the D-8 member states are around 4.9 per cent of world GDP and the total population is around 15.3 per cent of the world population. This is a manifestation of the region’s consumer base for both service and commodities along with its inherent growth potentials”.
Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan highlighted that the total trade volume of D-8 is $1.6 trillion of which 6.5 per cent stemmed from intra-D8 trade.
“Another item that we put great emphasis on is trade facilitation as well as cooperation regarding customs matters,” she said.
Given the significance of international logistics and supply chains, D-8 countries should work on improving logistical ties and infrastructure in order to facilitate trade, the minister said.
“As Turkey, we emphasise our key role in trans-Asian logistics routes and attach importance in enhancing the effectiveness of the Middle Corridor,” she added.
Besides, she put stress on the multilateral trade arrangement. She said signing a PTA could be very instrumental.
D-8 PTA could play the key role in boosting trade relations among the member countries and in achieving a $500-billion trade target.
Turkish trade minister said that Turkey and some other countries had already implemented the PTA and requested Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Nigeria to begin the implementation of the agreement.
The bloc of eight countries — Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey —signed the PTA in May 2006 and the agreement came into effect in August 2011.
But the PTA has yet to be implemented fully due to differences of opinion on some issues, including the rate of local value addition for least developed countries.
Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told the forum that the member states of D8 will be able to overcome the challenges of COVID through the effective functioning of the D-8 business platform.
He hoped that the D-8’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry will work at a more assertive level for enhancing trade, services, investment, small- and medium enterprises, tourism, and agriculture.
Noting that countries will face some challenges posed by some newer innovation such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, Internet of Things (IoT), the fourth industrial revolution and blockchain, the minister emphasized “We need to keep aligning ourselves with these challenges.”
Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister sought investment from the seven remaining countries, pointing out that the government has been developing 100 economic zones across the country.
D-8 projects such as preferential trade agreements and visa agreements will enable the movement of people and goods, and in turn, they will have a positive impact on the economic activities of D-8, the Secretary General of the D-8 Dato Ku Jaafar Ku said.
FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim assumed chairmanship of D-8 CCI from Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, president of the Turkish chambers and exchanges.
Fahim pointed out a strategic D-8 value chain initiative and maximising comparative advantages with raw materials, knowledge and expertise for domestic industries.
He also sought to maximise Bangladesh’s competitive edge in production and export to the D-8 market and beyond.