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D-8 sees trade boost.

Summary: Eight muslim countries have decided to make a big push in their regional preferential trade, investment, energy cooperation and jobs for their workers.

Eight muslim countries have decided to make a big push in their regional preferential trade, investment, energy cooperation and jobs for their workers.

These are the decisions taken at the just-ended Islamabad session of D-8 group which includes Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. The group represents the combined population of one billion and a foreign trade market of $1 trillion.

The decisions taken by the D-8 commissioners were unanimous, and demonstrated a great amount of strength and mutual confidence in a world where regional groins are benefiting more than countries engaged in just bilateral cooperation. Several of these countries now have developed into very vibrant economies with a remarkable growth, pro- investment and expansionary. They are also some of the most attractive economies for growing world foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from across the world.

Their bourses and equity markets, including Pakistan, yield some of the highest profits and dividends. The session decided to quickly operationalise agreements among the D-8 to remove the remaining barriers to their mutual trade, more specifically calling for immediate ratification of their Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA). This was the key resolve of the 33rd session of D-8 commissioners. In terms of volume, their mutual regional trade will increase to $500 billion a year in 2018 from the present level of $150 billion.

Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, asked the group to speed up cooperation in all fields, including a fast track substantive cooperation phase by operationalising the agreements related to removing barriers to trade and business, particularly the Preferential Trade Agreement, or PTA.

"Although D-8 Group has made efforts to bring the member countries closer to each other, but there is still the need to further expand trade relations among member states. The group can play an effective role in dealing with economic and social challenges, facing their population," said Aziz.

Pakistan had decided to join D-8 Group 15 years ago in June 1997 at its historical Summit in Istanbul when Nawaz Sharif was also the Prime Minister in an earlier term in office. He is one of the founding leaders of D-8.

Aziz also asked the member countries to evolve a mechanism of cooperation in the energy sector, as the energy crisis is becoming a daunting challenge. Pakistan is now in the process of organising the first meeting of D-8 Energy Forum at Islamabad.

The group decided to take initiative for cooperation in capacity building, transfer of technology, transfer of capital, labour, energy, food security, Islamic banking, and Halal fields of development as these are the needs of the times, and are fast becoming highly essential and profitable businesses. Pakistan, the current chairman of D-8 also proposed to the group and its Secretary-General Dr Moosavi Syed Ali Mohammad of Iran to adopt steps for "a fast track implementation of trade and visa agreements.

Pakistan had assumed the chairmanship of the group on November 22, 2012 at D-8 Summit in Islamabad. The current session of the Commissioners of D-8 is part of a series of meetings which Pakistan will host as a follow up and review of the decisions taken at the Islamabad Summit in 2012 at Islamabad.

The Islamabad Summit had adopted several key documents, including the D-8 charter, and the Global Vision for the next 20 years, besides adopting the Islamabad decleraion-2012.

The declaration lays down the tasks, objectives and the goals to be achieved for the betterment of the one billion strong population of the member countries.

Dr Moosavi assured support of D-8 Group in expediting implementation of PTA and other decisions, including raising the mutual regional trade from the current level of $150 billion a year to $500 billion during next five years.

The two-day session of the group also reviewed the progress of its cooperation in many areas in the light of its 10-year roadmap of cooperation covering the period from 2008 to 2018.

Pakistan and some other countries already have ratified all the agreements, including the PTA which is planned to be made operational shortly. Pakistan is chairman of the group until 2014.

Views expressed by the authors are his own and do not reflect newspaper's policy

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Sep 9, 2013
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