D-8 preferential trade deal key to boost ties: Turkey
Turkish trade minister asks Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan to begin implementation of deal
The D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement can be instrumental in enhancing trade relations between the member nations and achieving $500 billion trade target, the Turkish trade minister said on Monday.
Speaking at the D-8 Business Forum held virtually, Ruhsar Pekcan asked Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan to begin the implementation of the agreement at the earliest, as Turkey did so.
She stressed that Turkey is well aware of the economic synergy that could be generated with its fellow countries of shared historical, economic, social, and cultural foundations.
"Our involvement with the D-8, along with Economic Cooperation Organization and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is a solid outcome of this belief," Pekcan noted.
Underlining that the coronavirus pandemic increase importance of the countries to act in harmony and pool their resources, Pekcan said: "We support initiatives towards ensuring the distribution of vaccines to every country without any exceptions, in a cost-effective way."
Pointing to the constructive nature of international trade and international business relations, the trade minister said every economic opportunity towards enhancing the welfare of D-8 countries, societies and future generations should be seized.
With a GDP of nearly $4 trillion, the D-8 countries account for almost 90% of the exports, except energy (oil/natural gas), among the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
"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% stemmed from intra-D8 trade.
Stressing that Turkey supports every initiative and strategy to boost trade ties in pursuit of achieving the $500 billion trade target, Pekcan said: "D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement can be very instrumental in enhancing our trade relations."
"I am glad to say that Turkey has already put the agreement into implementation based on our commitments."
Pekcan underlined the importance of cooperating on key areas such as the digital economy, digitalization and e-commerce, adding that Turkey is ready to engage in collective work with D-8 partners in such innovative areas.
"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 emphasize our key role in trans-Asian logistics routes and attach importance in enhancing the effectiveness of the Middle Corridor," she added.
Business people to play important role
Tipu Munshi, the Bangladeshi trade minister, said the world economy has faced shockwaves in the recent period.
"We will be able to overcome the challenges of COVID through the effective functioning of the D-8 business platform," Munshi said.
He noted 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-sized enterprises, tourism, agriculture and green economy.
Munshi added that the platform will contribute to member states' economic cooperation.
Also touching on the preferential trade agreement, he said: "I believe that business people have a significant role to play. I requested the business leaders to play a pivotal role in increasing businesses."
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."
Touching on the global economic lull due to the pandemic, Dato Ku Jaafar Ku, secretary general of the D-8, also said the group should 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 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.
"D-8 airlines zone will pave the way for stronger trade ties among the member countries, showing how D-8 is facilitating the needs of the citizens of the block in order to develop economic cooperation,” he added.
Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISG) will be one of the designated airports of the D-8, he added.