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D-8 Summit: A move in the right direction

Paves way for establishment of an economic bloc

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Mar 05 - 11, 2001

Recently concluded D-8 summit in Cairo has paved the way for establishment of an effective economic bloc of the member states including Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.

Although there was no formal announcement regarding formation of an economic bloc of the member countries yet various important decisions unanimously agreed at the top level to consolidate available resources would hopefully culminating into formation of an economic bloc of the member countries.

In fact the summit has thrown the ball into the court of the trade communities of the respective countries to play a greater role to prove their existence through achieving the desired economic targets set by the summit.

Growing interaction between the business communities of the member states would now be possible, as the trade bodies have been entrusted for recommendation of visa for the intended business visitors.

The representative trade bodies of the D-8 countries will also establish a Trade Promotion Company (TPC) to identify areas having potential to enhance volume of trade among the member states.

The decision was the outcome of the meeting of the trade bodies of the respective countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Nigeria and Egypt. The trade representatives had a meeting before going of D-8 summit into session at Cairo on Feb 25, 2001.

Pakistan side of the businessmen comprising Tariq Sayied, Zubair Tufail, Iqbal Paracha and Kanwar Qutubuddin was led by Iftikhar Malik, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

The Central Banks of the respective countries would also provide extra credit limits for trade among the D-8 countries was yet another important decision taken by the summit.

In order to support trade activities among the member states, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to provide long term financing on soft term basis on project to project basis.

Foreign Ministers of the Group of 8 Developing Islamic Countries have signed an agreement on facilitating entry visa procedures for businessmen among the member states. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mousa, who chaired a meeting of the D-8 foreign ministers, said that the agreement is aimed at removing red tape in order to help business councils among the member countries access D-8 member markets.

It will also eliminate administrative obstacles to mutual investments; the minister said adding that it is of importance to promote cooperation amongst the private sector of the D-8 countries. D-8 countries' total export to the international markets account for 3.88 per cent of the total international exports while imports are estimated at 4.15 per cent of the total imports. This indicates that the D-8 countries are not getting the due share out of the global transactions. The only way to get a proper share out of the global market is to make concerted efforts by the member countries, the summit felt.

FPCCI

The member countries of the Developing-Eight have authorized the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to recommend visa applications of Pakistan businessmen to enhance trade among themselves.

According to FPCCI president Iftikhar Malik, D-8 summit took a number of decisions and steps to facilitate bilateral trade. FPCCI has been authorized to recommend visa applications of Pakistani industrialists and traders desirous to visit these countries. Recommendations from FPCCI would ensure issuance of visa within 48 hours.

This measure is a step towards establishment of a common market of the D-8. Other feasible steps are also being taken to remove hurdles and irritants in the way of an economic bloc, he observed.

Representing Pakistan's point of view at the summit, Chief Executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf has called upon the member states for concerted efforts to address the problem of increasing burden of foreign debt. He said that the developing world needs debt relief on a large-scale basis to bring about financial stability, a pre-requisite for economic growth.

The debt burden has reached an alarming proportion and causing a threat to macro economic policies of the developing nations.

The total population of the member states comes to over 800 million or 13.5 per cent of the world's total population. Despite having enormous potentials and a huge size of population, the developing countries are deprived of their due share in global economic growth. One of the major reasons for their economic drawbacks is the lack of coordination and cooperation between the member countries. The more important thing before the D-8 countries should be a consensus for improving coordination through development of understanding among themselves. It is heartening to note that D-8 summit has given a direction, the only thing, which is needed, is to join hands for a common purpose. Moving together in the given direction, they have the potential to hit the targets.