Istanbul Summit for immediate D-8 visa agreement implementation

Pak integration into Eurasian B&R Network  base for rapid economic development

The 9th Summit of the Developing Eight (D-8) Organization for Economic Cooperation held in Istanbul, called for the implementation of D-8 Visa Agreement as soon as possible. The operationalization of the D-8 Visa Agreement will facilitate trade by increasing mobility of businessmen.

The D-8 was launched on June 15, 1997, after Turkey’s then-prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan proposed the creation of an economic group consisting of eight emerging economies from the Muslim world. Formed as an economic alliance, the body consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. Today, the organization has a combined GDP of $3.7 trillion and includes more than one billion people around 15 percent of the world’s population.

Two of its members, that is Turkey and Indonesia are among the group of the world’s 20 biggest economies. Azerbaijan and Guinea attended the summit as guest states. Bangladesh has offered to host the 10th D-8 summit in 2019.

The Summit was attended by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Iran’s First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri and the Vice-President of Indonesia Jusuf Kalla.

The Summit coincided with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Organization in 1997. With the 9th Summit, the Chairmanship rotated to all the member states and returned to Turkey, which marked the shift in approach of project development from the stage of policy formulation and coordination.

It may be mentioned that the 9th Summit took place after five years since the last Summit had been held in Islamabad in 2012. The D-8 leadership took stock of progress in all areas, priority areas in particular and gave directives for future course of action.

With the commencement of the 2nd phase of life of the Organization through this Summit, implementation of projects and programmes would make the efforts of cooperative partnership visible and tangible to the people of the member states.

D-8 summit also called for greater cooperation in the sectors of tourism, agriculture, industry and transportation along with the establishment of a research and development center.  The establishment of the D-8 Research and Development Center will assist to conduct research on D-8 priority areas and other issues as determined by the Member States. Furthermore, the action plan says the D-8 Visa Agreement should be implemented as soon as possible.

9th Summit of the Developing Eight Organization for Economic Cooperation Organization was held in Istanbul with the theme “Expanding Opportunities through Cooperation.” it adopted ‘Istanbul Declaration” and “D-8 Istanbul Plan of Action” to inject further dynamism into the pace of progress of the Organization.

The Istanbul declaration urged “the establishment of D-8 Technology Transfer and Exchange Network (TTEN) and D-8 Petrochemical Association for the facilitation of transfer of technology and enhanced cooperation in the petrochemical sector”.

The D-8 members condemned extra-territorial jurisdiction and unilateral economic sanctions as tools of political or economic pressure against D-8 member states. Further, D-8 decided to establish a project support fund, according to a plan of action. Istanbul was hosting the ninth summit of the D-8, of which the theme was “Expanding Opportunities through Cooperation”.

The D-8 Project Support Fund aims to facilitate the implementation of various projects among the D-8 member states, mainly through the use of feasibility studies. The action plan also mentions the foundation of an intra-D-8 payment mechanism. Moreover, it added that the D-8 finance/economy/customs will initiate a discussion to seek points of convergence in the Customs Act.

They may form appropriate inter-governmental bodies to work on convergence of customs acts and procedures in member states. They will consider the establishment of a Customs Data Bank as per the D-8 Customs Agreement. The works on Customs Agreement should be accomplished as soon as possible.

The action plan stipulates that the D-8 working group on energy is to be made more functional; the working group is to explore the potential of sharing energy-efficient technology. The working group may establish a D-8 energy database to serve as a platform for exchange of experiences on efficient use of energy and its new types.

The joint declaration reaffirmed the commitments to establish peace, democracy, and solidarity among the member states including Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Pakistan. Alongside Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Pakistan created the organization based in Istanbul.

In the declaration, the member states also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the creation of the D-8, adding that the organization had “entered a new phase of economic cooperation and development”. The organization stressed the importance of “deepening the sectorial cooperation for deeper private sector involvement in all activities in order to attain 20 percent of total intra-D-8 trade”.

The declaration further underlined the progress in civil aviation and in the development of all modes of transportation in order to connect all member states. It also welcomed Iran’s initiative to establish a D-8 university. D-8 member states should pen visa and the customs agreements as soon as possible, added the declaration.

It also applauded Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish government and the people of Turkey “for their warm and generous hospitality and further express full solidarity with them against the coup attempt that took place in 2016”. The defeated coup on July 15, 2016 that martyred 250 people in Turkey were orchestrated by the US based Fetullah Gulen and his Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

In his remarks, the host and chair of the summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, recalled the founding principles of the Organization and highlighted the huge capacities and resources of the 8 Member Countries and the existing potential for expansion of cooperation among them. He particularly underscored the need for trade facilitation among Member Countries and expressed his conviction that Member Countries will experience significant boost in their trade if using their national currencies.

Addressing the D8 Summit, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urged the D-8 countries to focus on project implementation for development, progress and prosperity of the people.  He expressed confidence that the organization would continue journey along the path of more robust economic cooperation. He also expressed Pakistan’s desire that the member countries should have a stronger voice at international level.

He appreciated the theme of the summit “Expanding Opportunities through Cooperation” and said it is in complete harmony with the post-2017 development agenda, visualizing sustainable development as one of the core elements of people-centric development. Referring to eight D-8 summit held in Pakistan in 2012, the Prime Minister said it adopted two landmark documents: the D-8 Charter and the Global Vision. PM Abbasi said another significant milestone achieved during this period was the Observer Status for D-8 at the United Nations.

This enables the Organization to closely interact with various UN agencies and affiliated institutions for cooperative arrangements in priority areas for us.  The Prime Minister urged the summit to take stock of the progress made so far on trade and economic partnership goals. He said the forum is a good opportunity for us to identify and remove the impediments in the way of achieving the Organization’s objectives.

The Prime Minister said that it was important for D-8 to fully implement various instruments and agreements aimed at facilitating trade amongst member states, especially those related to Preferential Trade, Small and Medium Enterprises, Customs, Simplification of Visa matters and Civil Aviation.

He said it is also imperative for the governments of Member Countries to facilitate trade and investment by adopting the necessary legal framework for investment protection and creating an enabling environment for business in their respective countries. The Prime Minister said that realization of combined potential and optimizing collective resources requires cooperation and collaboration at every level and every field.

He said only then we will be able to attain the critical synergy that will bring shared, secure and sustainable prosperity to our nations. PM Abbasi referred to challenges facing Pakistan including unrelenting terrorism emanating from instability in the neighborhood and said the country was able to turn the tide due to a comprehensive strategy.

He said that improved security had led to economic recovery and the country is focusing on upgrading communications and energy infrastructure and enhancing regional connectivity. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would further put our economy on an upward trajectory of robust growth.  Pakistan’s integration into the Eurasian Belt and Road network will provide a firm foundation for Pakistan’s rapid economic development.

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About Leyla 15 Articles
The writer is Head of International Affairs Desk at Mélange Int’l Magazine & Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR).