The Daily Star | 6 April 2021
D-8 nations should sign PTAs
Nations of the D-8 should sign a much-needed preferential trade agreement (PTA) to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers, ministers and entrepreneurs of the trade bloc said yesterday.
The D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an organisation for development cooperation among Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. Its establishment was officially announced on June 15, 1997.
D-8 nations currently conduct trade amounting to $1.6 trillion each year, of which just 6.5 per cent is among themselves.
"This figure is very poor considering its potential," they said.
Trade among the eight nations amounted to $110 billion whereas the capacity is $700 billion, said the Indonesian vice-minister for trade, 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.
"So signing a PTA could be very instrumental," said the Minister of Trade of Turkey Ruhsar Pekcan at a virtual discussion during a 10th D-8 Business Summit.
"We need to support our investors. We should cooperate among each other in digital commerce, trade facilitation, customs and trade," she said.
Echoing the sentiment, Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, sought investment from the seven remaining countries, pointing out that the government has been developing 100 economic zones across the country.
"We need common investment policy among the D-8 nations for boosting trade among us," said Bangladesh’s foreign minister, AK Abdul Momen.
He also advocated for developing a common development fund, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the blue economy among the eight.
The FBCCI organised a D-8 Business Forum in partnership with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, and D-8 Chambers of Commerce and Industry (D-8 CCI) on the sidelines of the summit.
FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim assumed chairmanship of D-8 CCI from Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, president of the Turkish chambers and exchanges.
Fahim focused on 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.
The event’s speakers identified areas of cooperation and meaningful engagement with particular focus on trade and investment through capacity building, technology and knowledge sharing, said the FBCCI statement.
They stressed on improving connectivity in all D-8 countries as it was the basis for economic integration through interaction.
Speakers also emphasised on mutual cooperation and collaboration for further development of youth, micro and SMEs and startup ecosystems, blue economy, marine biotechnology and resources for inclusive growth of D-8 countries, the FBCCI said.
Bangladesh’s state minister for foreign affairs, Shahriar Alam, also spoke at the event.