Bangladesh D-8 Summit in Kuala Lumpur

by Barrister Harun ur Rashid | July 16, 2008 5:11 am

The D-8 summit, consisting of eight most populous Muslim majority nations, took place on 8th July in Kuala Lumpur. The Chief Adviser of the Care-taker government of Bangladesh Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed attended the summit.

The participation of the Chief Adviser has demonstrated the importance Bangladesh gives to the D-8 summit. It was the 6th Summit since 1997. The summit is held every two years.

D-8 Forum: how did it begin?

The idea of the D-8 was first discussed in October 1996 by the then Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, who was eager to create a Muslim alternative to the EU and what was then the G-7. The organization was formally established on June 15, 1997, in Istanbul.

Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Nigeria and Turkey are the member states of the D-8. Incidentally these states are also members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

The objective of D-8 is to promote economic cooperation and development, especially in agriculture, industry and trade. It aims to enhance cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, rural development, human resource development, science and technology and health to improve the economic status of member states.

D-8 is an economic alliance with the objective of improving the social and conditions of the Muslim-majority nations.

The total population of the member countries is estimated to be 930 million, so whatever decisions D-8 member countries take are noticed by international community.

Kuala Lumpur Summit:

In 2006 Indonesia held the summit and became the chairman of D-8. President of Indonesia Yudhoyono handed over the chairmanship to Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi.

The theme of the summit was “Meeting global challenges through innovative cooperation.”

The global challenges the Summit confronted were the soaring price of oil, the global food crisis and global climate change. Furthermore, the triple threat of inflation, slowing global economy and financial sector woes needed to be addressed.

The organization expects that both Working Groups on Energy and Civil Aviation will learn, observe, and study more possibilities on the usage of bio-energy fuel for civil aviation to combat the high rising price of oil. The aviation world has started to see some new development of biofuels tests, as being conducted by Japanese flag carrier, Japan Air Lines.

Five Point proposal of Bangladesh:

The Chief Adviser of Bangladesh mooted a five point recommendation for effective cooperation among the D-8 member states in energy, food, trade, climate change and migration. He proposed mechanisms to ensure supply of affordable energy and focus on renewable energy, such as solar, tidal, biofuel, wind power and hydropower.

It is noted that coal constitutes 39% per cent, Oil 10% per cent, Gas 15% per cent, Nuclear 16% per cent and Hydro 19% per cent of the total world electricity generation. Currently only 9% per cent of energy in Asia is produced from renewable energy sources and most of that is from hydro-electric power.

On global food crisis, the Chief Adviser called for creation of a D-8 food fund to enhance collective food security. It is reported that since 2003 the price of rice has been on a steady climb upward and has risen 141% per cent in the last year alone.

He called for establishing a D-6 free trade area alongside making progress in forging a Preferential Trade Agreement.

KL Summit Decisions:

The D8 summit resolved to boost food production to combat shortages that it said threaten to trigger widespread political unrest.

D-8 summit had agreed to facilitate visa procedures for genuine businessmen from D8 countries. D8 has decided in the next two years to implement all signed agreements, including those signed by companies of D8 countries, focusing on trade.

Strong commitment to the implementation of the first two-years of D8 Roadmap 2008-2018 was made on some economic sectors that support the increase of intra trade, including services such as tourism.

The two-phased roadmap envisaged increased intra-trade from the current 5 percent to between 15 and 20 percent of the grouping’s total global trade by 2018. By end of 2018, intra-trade is to grow to 571.5 billion U.S. dollars or 15 to 20 percent of the total D8 global trade.

The KL summit decided to have a permanent secretariat in Istanbul and the permanent secretariat is necessary to fallow up decisions and to provide new ideas of cooperation among D-8 countries.

The member states will choose a secretary general for a four-year term in alphabetical order. The current Secretary General Dipo Alam of Indonesia would continue for a four year term. The next Secretary General would be from Iran.


D-8 Forum consists of diverse economies and it has been found difficult to harmonise and integrate into one economy. The old model of national interests conflicting with the combined interests of D-8 has been a danger to cooperation among G-8 members.

For example, the rules of origin are used to determine the source of goods of trade purposes. D-8 cannot implement the Preferential Trade Agreement because of the differences of views by the member-states on the content of rules of origin. Some countries reportedly want local content to be 30% per cent, while other countries want 40 to 50% per cent..

On July 3, a D-8 Business Forum was held in Kuala Lumpur to discuss biotechnology, renewable energy and the development and regulation of the halal industry, which ensures that activities, particularly the production and processing of food, comply with Islamic precepts.

However, such meetings had so far failed to have a significant impact on economic relations among D-8 member states. According to the D-8 secretariat, the total trade of D-8 nations to the world reached $1 trillion last year, while among member states was only $60 billion. This accounts for only 5% per cent of trade to the world.

Since 2003, the price of oil has jumped five-fold increase but the soaring price of oil did not figure prominently at the Summit because Iran believed that it was a much broader issue and the D-8 Summit was not the appropriate forum to take any decision because the problem was universal and something not peculiar to D-8.


The D-8 developing countries should collectively explore one another’s strength to further enhance trade collaboration within the bloc.

The simple reality is that for the foreseeable future, the D-8 cannot make any significant impact on economic relations among member-states because it has to grow and develop on the basis of united platform of economic and trade programmes.

However it is a piece of political institution that is likely to grow to its full potential, once they continue to attempt to confront global challenges and work together to meet them.

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid

Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.

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