Business leaders seek greater benefits from D-8 alliance | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2012

Business leaders seek greater benefits from D-8 alliance

Bangladeshi business leaders yesterday called for duty-free access to the member countries of Developing 8 (D-8) to boost the alliance's dismal intra-country trade.
The call came at the opening ceremony of the D-8 7th Meeting of the Working Group on Industrial Co-operation at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka.
Asif Ibrahim, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), said many of its members, including Bangladesh, have been identified to be the next 11 emerging economies of the world.
The total volume of trade among the D-8 countries doubled to $70 billion to date from $35 billion in 2006, but Ibrahim deems the figure to be paltry when viewed against the potential of the alliance.
A K Azad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, feels it is the existence of tariffs which is holding the alliance back from realising its trade potential.
"The countries need to provide duty-free access to each other to boost trade between them. Otherwise, intra-country business will not go up," he said.
The issues discussed at the sessions need to be followed through for the D-8 meetings to be meaningful, Azad said.
State Minister for Industries Omor Faruk Chowdhury, said the meeting should not be a one-off exercise.
"It should be followed up regularly to deepen cooperation."
Industries Minister Dilip Barua said D-8 member stand to gain equal benefits from an increase in intra-country trade, as they are all developing countries.
"We can open up new windows of co-operation in the trade and business sector."
He considers the global economic crisis as an opportunity for the D-8 members to utilise its many competitive advantages.
"We have huge cheap labour force, potential human resource, vast internal market, scope for rapid technology transfer and relatively common social value systems, as well as economic way of life,” Barua said.
"What we need now is to strengthen our mutual cooperation, communication and initiative through exchange of expertise, knowledge and transfer of green and renewable technology, a spill-over of the third industrial revolution."
The minister said the D-8 countries should identify sectors -- other than automotive, cement, steel, electronics and IT, petrochemicals, energy and environmental conservation, food, textiles, SMEs -- for future co-operation.
"We should not be confined to the 12 selective industrial sectors.”
He suggested pharmaceuticals, printing and publication, plastic, leather, jute and jute goods, as potential sectors of mutual co-operation.
Ibrahim said pharmaceuticals might be added to the list of fields of co-operation.
The DCCI chief said D-8 member states must strengthen their technological and industrial co-operation, to ensure accelerated economic growth and development for their nations.
"While creating employment opportunities are central to poverty reduction and raising standard of living, industrialisation and technological advancement can contribute significantly to upscale it."
"The member states of D-8 countries can be benefited through transferring technology, collaborative industrialization and co-operation in research and development," added Ibrahim.
D-8 Secretary General Widi Agoes Pratikto said the member countries need to go beyond discussions.
"We also need to focus on specific challenges facing the member countries. We need to work harder to achieve more results in the field of industrialisation.”
Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, industries secretary, who chaired the programme, said the D-8 member countries should create an endowment fund to promote research in universities that will help in the region's industrialisation.
Shamsur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries, also spoke.
The D-8 is an economic alliance of eight developing countries with large Muslim populations: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

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