D8 Business Forum called for removing trade barriers among member states to ensure the target of US$500 billion trade in the region.
Better connectivity and collaboration among the member states will promote common economic growth, speakers told the D-8 Business Forum, held on the sideline of the D8 Summit 2021 Dhaka on 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 took part in the programme.
Addressing the discussion, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said leveraging the commonalities, D-8 member states should aim at promoting intra-trade and investment innovation.
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 stressed 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 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 is 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 told the forum that the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement can be instrumental in enhancing trade relations between the member nations and achieving $500 billion trade target.
She urged Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan to begin the implementation of the agreement at the earliest, as Turkey did so.
The Turkish trade minister said every economic opportunity towards enhancing the welfare of D-8 countries, societies and future generations should be seized.
"This indicates a great economic potential that we must never lose sight of," Pekcan said.
She 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.
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 stressed: "We need to keep aligning ourselves with these challenges."
Dato Ku Jaafar Ku, Secretary General of the D-8 urged member states to continue to enhance cooperation in the upcoming period.
"We want to diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, we want to improve developing countries' position in the world economy," he added.
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 said.
"We also look forward to developing a new project that will help D-8 member countries use more of their own local currencies in trade, reducing the dominance of other foreign currencies on D-8 trade," he said.