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Tenth D-8 Summit and Bangladesh

Shining Editorial || shiningbd

Published: 03:58, 14 April 2021   Update: 03:58, 14 April 2021
Tenth D-8 Summit and Bangladesh

Bangladesh hosts the 10th Summit of the Developing 8 (D-8) on the virtual platform on 7-8 April 2021 with the slogan of “Partnership for a Transformative World: Harnessing the Power of Youth and Technology.” D-8 is an organization for development cooperation which consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

The organization was established through the Istanbul Declaration of Summit of Heads of State/Government on June 15, 1997.

The objectives of D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation are to improve member states’ position in the global economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, enhance participation in decision-making at international level, and improve standards of living.

Member states call this organization as a global arrangement. Given the geographical diversity, this is clearly a global entity that can play a significant role in the world through bilateral and multilateral engagements on a wide range of issues. However, this organization is characterized by five unique dimensions of identities.

First, it is an inter-regional cooperation initiative in the age of new regionalism.

Second, it reflects a common aspiration of middle and rising powers in their respective regions which signifies a new geopolitical shift in the world.

Third, it reflects solidarity based on common history and identity from Islamic civilization.

Fourth, the principles of D-8 are also unique. Unlike the similar multilateral bodies, it follows peace instead of conflict; dialogue instead of confrontation; cooperation instead of exploitation; justice instead of double-standard; equality instead of discrimination; and democracy instead of oppression as its cardinal principles.

Finally, it is an organization of diversity in geography, culture and people. Particularly, geographical diversity is most visible phenomenon although there are other examples such as G-7 and G-20. Bangladesh is intimately linked with D-8 since its inception in 1997. Particularly, the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has personal attachment with this immensely significant multilateral body.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended the first D-8 Summit held in 1997 and Dhaka successfully hosted the second D-8 Summit in 1999. The hosting of the tenth Summit in the challenging times of COVID-19 demonstrates unwavering commitment of Bangladesh to make the organization more visible and effective in the world.

As the foreign minister of Bangladesh states, Bangladesh will take all pragmatic initiatives to open new avenues of cooperation among the D-8 member states with the aim of making this group even more vibrant, active and effective. Meanwhile, the 43rd Session of the D-8 Commission was held on April 5 to April 6.

On April 5, D-8 Business Forum and first D-8 Youth Summit were held on the sidelines of the Summit. Achievements and Prospects of D-8 D-8 is a unique multilateral body with enormous prospects right from its beginning that has not been exploited yet. In its history of existence for about twenty-four years, D-8 could not make a major impact on global diplomacy and intra-organization cooperation.

However, it has achieved several milestones in its organizational evolution which can be a fortitude of a powerful inter-regional platform of cooperation and diplomacy.

Prospects and possibilities of D-8 are identified in the following.

First, D-8 has been successful to organize ten summits since its establishment in 1997. It is a huge accomplishment for any regional or inter-regional organization. The holding ten summits has added enormous goodwill and mutual understanding for multilateral cooperation.

Second, the key focus of the group on development cooperation is a major contributing factor for deeper cooperation and understanding among the member nations. The idea of the group was mooted by Prof. Dr. Necmettin Erbakan, the then Prime Minister of Turkey, during a Seminar on “Cooperation in Development” which was held in Istanbul in October 1996.

Third, the area of cooperation covering relevant development issues such as agriculture and food security, trade, transport, industrial cooperation, tourism, energy and minerals is a critical mass in forging multilateral cooperation. The proposed D-8 Preferential Trading Arrangement (PTA) is a case in point.

Fourth, the group has a charter and a dynamic organizational structure comprising of the Summit, the Council and the Commission.

Fifth, the composition of the group with eight countries from Asia and Africa is a source of diplomatic, economic and strategic capabilities. The group has a combined population of 1.1 billion people, of which 207 million, nearly 19 per cent, are aged between 15-24 years. It commands a sizeable global GDP, natural resources and youth population. It is also bestowed with political leadership, cultural richness and glorious history.

Sixth, the group could emerge as a major geopolitical bloc to complement execution of foreign policies of member states in the times of strategic rivalries at the global and regional levels. It can play a vital role in pursuing independent and autonomous foreign policy of member nations.

Seventh, the group has immense potentials in economic cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, connectivity and technology sharing.

Finally, D-8 has created a platform for diplomatic bargaining in different global forums on common global issues and challenges such as global trade protectionism, COVID-19, poverty, climate change, terrorism, connectivity, humanitarian support, anti-immigration, and Islamophobia.

Opportunities for Bangladesh D-8 offers

Excellent opportunities for Bangladesh in different aspects – economic to diplomatic to geopolitical.

First, to begin with, the tenth Summit of D-8 has been held in Bangladesh during the historic occasions of the birth centenary of Father of the Nations, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Bangladesh.

Second, it is a back-to-back summit meetings of Bangladesh with global leaders under the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. It demonstrates leadership, statecraft and capacity of Bangladesh under the Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.

Third, D-8 summit enhances global diplomatic activism of Bangladesh as the country takes over the position of Chair of D-8 from Turkey. Bangladesh is also currently vice-chair of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). Bangladesh has been invited by the US President Joe Biden to attend special Climate Change Summit.

Fourth, Bangladesh has instilled a new dynamism and innovative ideas to D-8 through the tenth summit. Meanwhile, the theme “Partnership for a Transformative World: Harnessing the Power of Youth and Technology” and two documents “D-8 Decennial Roadmap 2020-2030” and “Dhaka Declaration 2021” have been adopted in Dhaka as a future blueprint of D-8.

Fifth, the Summit provides an occasion for Bangladesh to flag in important foreign policy issues and development challenges in the forum that will benefit the country as well as the member states. These issues are trade, the Rohingya crisis, climate change, investment, mineral resources, ICT and tourism.

Sixth, this group is of immense 3 significance in the realm of geopolitics and strategy. Bangladesh’s active participation and current role of Chair will be a major strategic instrument to enhance its bargaining capacity in negotiations with China, USA, India, Japan and EU.

Seventh, Bangladesh has already called upon the G-8 leaders to support the repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar. It’s a new opportunity for Bangladesh to raise the issue in this platform and mobilize support to create pressure on the Myanmar regime.

Eighth, D-8 is a perfect forum to share the success stories in economic development and social advancement in Bangladesh. Eventually, it will elevate the image of Bangladesh in the global community.

Finally, it is an opportune moment for Bangladesh and member states to revitalize the organization as an effective multilateral body to meet development challenges as well as strategic threats in the current world. While D-8 brings about a host of opportunities as a global or inter-regional cooperation initiative, its uniqueness in nature is a challenge. Specifically, analysts tend to argue that diversity in D-8 can be a major challenge for the member states.

In Bangladesh, a significant limitation is the lack of national focus on this promising platform. MOFA has not highlighted this organization in the policy and academic arenas. Hence, there is a limited understanding of D-8 within the policy and knowledge circles about its functions and prospects. It is critical to note that leaders of this organization have shown that they can act together. The leaders of this group have met ten times to discuss the common challenges since its birth and to exchange their views about the world which is a major strength for D-8.

One of the critical strengths of G-8 is that all the members are now in strong economic powers and potentially major actors in the new world order. The tenth Summit held in Dhaka on 7-8 April 2021 on a virtual platform is a turning point for D-8. The leadership of Bangladesh can inject a new blood to this organization.

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