D-8 seeks to double trade among member states

By Zuhal Demirci and Fatih Hafız Mehmet

ANKARA (AA) – The D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation seeks to double trade among member states, the head of the organization said.

"We are looking at doubling the intra-trade among member countries," Secretary-General Dato' Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

The D-8 organization 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, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

The goal received positive response from the private and government sector, Shaari said, adding the organization puts the focus on private sector involvement the D-8 activities.

The organization, started 21 years ago with the strong commitment of member states, could gain strength with a new dynamism, the chief asserted.

"I am assured by the member states that they want to see the D-8 become a very important economic organization," he said.

– New cooperation plan

Shaar said the leaders came up with the new idea of adopting a cooperation plan during last year’s summit in Istanbul.

The new plan, which aims to expand cooperation among member states, goes beyond the collaboration in already-set areas — trade, industry, agriculture, transport, energy and tourism, according to Shaar.

"But now we are expanding it to include other areas of cooperation such as health, science, technology, finance sector, and so on. So we are looking to explore the possibility of expanding our cooperation more and more," he said.

Also mentioning the letter of intent signed with Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Shaar said the deal branded the Turkish airport as the first D-8 designated airport.

"So, we are looking at other airports in member states… with the hope that we can establish a special D-8 association that would provide an air network between member states …," Shaari said.

– Industrial zone among D-8 members

The Secretary-General also said the organization has plans to establish an industrial zone in the D-8.

"I hope this will gain a support from member states and soon hopefully, we can establish a special industrial zone among the member countries," he stated.

Today, two of the D-8 members — Turkey and Indonesia — are among the group of the world’s 20 biggest economies.

On the trade in local currencies in the D-8, Shaari said: “I cannot say much about it because it is still in the process of discussion and negotiation with the relevant authorities."

The organization is in talks with Turkey’s Central Bank on the issue, he added.

"We have got a very good paper from the bank to establish a clearinghouse where it will use local currencies," Shaari said.

The parties will address the issue at the forthcoming 41st session of commission and the council meeting of foreign ministers in Turkey in November, he added.

"We will see how we can develop this further. Hopefully something good will come out from this initiative.”