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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2400

D-8 Summit in Malaysia

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

The 6th summit of the leaders of the Developing-8 Muslim nations, popularly known as D-8, is scheduled for on July 4-8 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The D-8 group established in 1997 has a volume of trade among themselves that stands today at US $49 billion, up from US $14.5 billion in 1999. The secretariat is based in Istanbul, Turkey. The senior officials called Commissioners in D-8 met on y 3-4 for doing the groundwork. The summit to be held on July 08 and the Venue for the Summit is Hilton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

One

It is the first time that Malaysia is hosting the 6th D8 Summit, an economic grouping of eight Muslim countries. The theme of the Summit is “Meeting Challenges Through Innovative Cooperation.” The opening of the 6th Summit of D-8 will be held on 8th of July 2008, where the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will deliver the opening address followed by the handing over of the group's chairmanship by President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. There will be the 11th Session of the D-8 Council of Ministers comprising Ministers in charge of Foreign Affairs of member states on 6th of July 2008.

This would be a significant gathering of government leaders of some of the largest Islamic countries - Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Nigeria and Egypt. The last summit was hosted by Indonesia, the current chairman of D-8, in Bali, Indonesia on 13th of May 2006. The meeting focused on how D-8 member states could boost trade among themselves and exploit each other's strength. The price of crude oil touched US$145 (US$1=RM3.26) per barrel on the back of a weak US dollar in the global market on concerns about conflict in the Middle East and lower crude oil inventories. The leaders of third world Islamic nations admitted that they have the usual work to do such as the preparation of preferential trade agreement and finding ways to intensify trade cooperation among the member states. During the Indonesian chairmanship, agreement was reached on rules of origin as a precondition for the realization of a D-8 preferential trade agreement as the result of the Bali summit. "Under Indonesia’s chairmanship, 31 activities had been carried out, including 15 by Indonesia covering cooperation in trade, micro-finance, energy, tourism, civil aviation, and healthcare," an official said.

The summit is held once in every two years, discussing various economic issues facing the bloc countries.. Malaysia will hold the chairmanship for two years before passing to another member country. Bangladesh hosted the second one in 1999 when the leaders focused on possibilities of integrating their economies. The 2008 Summit is expected to adopt the decision on the setting up of the D-8 Permanent Secretariat and D-8 Roadmap for Economic Cooperation for the next ten years, in the Second Decade of Cooperation (2008 - 2018). Discussions will also cover a roadmap of D-8 -- economic cooperation roadmap in the second decade of cooperation (2008-2012). To jump start the summit, a meeting of the senior officials appointed by their respective governments otherwise known as the 25th Session of the Commission of D-8, was held on 4th and 5th of July 2008 in Kuala Lumpur.

Two

The D-8 forum, established in June 1997 by eight Organization of Islamic Conference member countries sharing development and population characteristics to promote economic cooperation and development especially in agriculture, industry, energy and trade, aims to enhance cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, rural development, human resource development, science and technology, agriculture and health to improve the economic status of member states.

D8 is an economic alliance with the objective of improving the position of Muslim developing countries in the global world economy through the diversification of their economies by creating new opportunities via increased trade relations.. In the process, they hope to improve the standard of living of their people, with the objective of promoting economic and trade cooperation among the eight largest Muslim economies. It seeks to create new trade opportunities, promote linkages and enhance standards of living among the member-states.. It was set up in 1997 as an economic alliance with the objective of improving the position of Muslim developing countries in the global world economy through the diversification of their economies by creating new opportunities via increased trade relations. In the process, they hope to improve the standard of living of their people.

Three

The 10-year plan aims to encourage greater economic cooperation between member nations and boost our intra-trade from 5% of the total trade for D8 countries to 15% to 20% in the next 10 years," according to secretary-general Dipo Alam. "Last year, total D8 trade was $1 trillion and intra-trade was about $60 billion so we believe this cooperation will open more opportunities for us," he added.

The main stumbling block has been agreement on a 2005 preferential trade agreement that was deadlocked on the "rules of origin" part of the pact, which trade officials are trying to resolve ahead of the summit. D8 has yet to implement three agreements that would help it reach its target.

The rules of origin are used to determine the source of goods for trade purposes. "Without the rules of origin, we cannot implement the Preferential Trade Agreement and at the moment only Malaysia and Iran have ratified the pact," Alam said. Six member countries have already agreed to have local content at 40% but Bangladesh wants the local content to be about 30% while Egypt wants it as high as 50%.

Four

According to available information, most of the leaders of those countries will attend the 6th D-8 Summit have sent confirmation to secretariat. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Pakistani Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani. The group also includes Bangladesh, Egypt and Nigeria which will be represented by ministers at the July 4-8 conference.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to attend the 6th Developing Eight summit before he attends the summit of high profile developed nations’ forum G8 Hokkaido, Japan and hand over the D-8 chairmanship to Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi. During the meeting, President Yudhoyono is also slated to have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Badawi and Malaysian business community. The Indonesian government held the D-8 chairmanship since May 2006 at the 5th summit in the country's resort island Bali.

It appears, the rising oil prices will not be the top agenda of the 6th Group of Eight Developing Islamic Countries Summit (D-8), though the leaders are to discuss it. "It is a much broader issue. The crisis should be discussed at the global stage," said Ambassador, Deputy Undersecretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey, Selim Kuneralp. "We, but I think we can't take concrete step because the problem is universal and something not peculiar to D-8," he told reporters on the sidelines of the 25th Session of D-8 Commission in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from halal and oil issues the meeting also focused on efforts towards developing renewable energy.

Officials were struggling to reach a compromise on issues before the arrival of the leaders, but with a little success. D8 members are pushing the ratification of a customs agreement and a visa program for businessmen and traders, but it would be difficult to say when these agreements would be concluded, because upon the implementation of the agreements, trade among the grouping was expected to grow substantially.

- Asian Tribune -

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