17 June 2014, Istanbul-Turkey
A Note for Positive Outlook towards D-8 Sustainable Development
*An article on the occasion of the 17th Anniversary of the Establishment of the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation June 2014, Istanbul - Turkey

The Advancement Cooperation Conference, held in 22 October 1996 in Istanbul at the initiative of late Professor Necmettin Erbakan, then Prime Minister of Republic of Turkey, initially started the formation of the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation with eight developing countries namely Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. On June 1997, with the participation of Heads of States from the D-8 Member States in Istanbul in Ciragan Palace, the D-8 was officially established and its establishment was declared through historic Istanbul declaration.

As the D-8 great founders were forming the Organization from its very inception, they already set up the objectives of the Organization to improve its member states’ positions in the world economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations and provide better standard of living. Needless to say that D-8, as one of intergovernmental organization, has also committed to work towards broadening the support for the Organization at the national level within the member states, and strengthen its weight and voice at regional and international levels, including through active engagement in and promotion of South-South and South-North cooperation.

Since its establishment, the D-8 has achieved several outstanding progresses in formation of principal organs namely the Commission, Council and Summit. The D-8 Secretariat based in Istanbul has played vital role as the backbone of the Organization activities.

The D-8 Organization was also able to finalize several Legal Documents and D-8 Agreements in the last decade.  The adoption of the Charter during the 8th D-8 Summit back in December 2012 was one of imperative achievements for the Organization. The document serves to institutionalize cooperation among the member states and to increase its appearance as a model for economic cooperation. In addition, other legal document namely the Statutory Documents and Headquarters Agreement has also brought maturity to the Organization in the sense of institutional development.

The organization has also produced D-8 Roadmap and D-8 Global Vision, which played a vital role as the guideline for practical approach. These documents provide framework as well as a plan of action for overall D-8 activities. In this sense, the D-8 Member States should start to explore, through these documents, which factors are necessary to ensure that national competitiveness remains sustainable over the longer term. 

The entries into force of the Visa Agreement, Customs Agreement and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) also served an important role to facilitate and promote actual cooperation among the Member States, particularly in the field of trade sector. It is expected that these agreements enhance the intra-D-8 trade volume from around US$ 133 billion or 7.4 percent of the total trade with the world in 2013 to around US$ 500 billion or 10-15 percent by the year 2018, as envisaged by the Roadmap.

In order to achieve this target, the Organization has identified several areas of cooperation, which would in fact has direct and indirect influence on the level of D-8 intra-trade. These areas such as trade, agriculture & food security, industry & SMEs, transportation, energy, communication and information, finance, banking and privatization, science and technology, poverty alleviation and human resources development, environment, health, tourism, and culture. Among these areas, the Organization has given priority to five areas of cooperation, name Trade, Agriculture & Food Security, Industry & SMEs, Transportation and Energy due to its high impact on the D-8 intra-trade. Member States shall explore different opportunities to promote, develop and strengthen relations and projects among themselves through related working groups, task forces and workshops as well as at Ministerial meeting level.

The D-8 Organization will be completing the first phase of its life cycle after the inception of the Organization by the 9th Summit in 2014 in Turkey. This landmark is evident by the completion of the first round service by each member state in the decisive role as the Chairman of the Organization. In this Summit, the Chairmanship will be rotated again to the Republic of Turkey, as the initiator of the organization. This Summit is a turning point, which will coherently denote the shift from “policy coordination” to “project implementation” phase.

At this 17th D-8 Anniversary, it is essential to take a reflection back-and-forth for having an overall positive outlook and assessment of the D-8 achievements during its first life cycle. The Organization is now bound to seize this momentum to enter its second life-cycle phase, and strategically devise effective way to achieve its entire goals, in accordance with the principles of its great founders. 

It is believed that this year is the high time as well to increase public awareness and visibility of the Organization within D-8 community as well as globally through the best and pragmatic efforts of the utilization of mainstream media, website and social media. Introducing the overall performance of the Organization broadly is undoubtedly one of the D-8's priorities now and afterward.  

In short, with these momentums of the 17th Anniversary and the upcoming 9th D-8 Summit this year, the D-8 needs to underline and formulate new strategies, policies and measures to enhance effectively D-8 cooperation with joint efforts at overcoming basic problems and to achieve economic development, particularly by increasing D-8 intra-trade. This is in addition to the countries’ efforts to provide employment, reducing poverty, increasing investments, upgrading industrial and infrastructure development, hence progressing economic development and social welfare.

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