Free Trade Zones

D-8 wants to make PTA operational by October

Members of the D-8 Economic Cooperation Organization want to make the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) operational by October this year, as the bloc aims to boost intra-regional trade almost three times to 400 billion dollars by 2030.

Currently, trade among D-8 member countries stands at $129 billion, up from $14 billion 25 years ago.

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“We want to take trade to $400 billion by 2030,” D-8 Secretary General Ambassador Isiaka A Imam told reporters after the D-8 ministerial meeting at the InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.

He said D-8 is considering developing a Mastercard-like payment card for fast and efficient payment among its members.

“We are also looking at the barter system to reduce pressure on our foreign reserve,” Imam said.

He made the comments in light of current global challenges, including high food and fuel prices, which are causing global inflation and affecting low-income and developing countries the most.

Among the D-8 countries, also known as developing-8 countries, Egypt was the last to agree to ratify the PTA, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told a conference in press after the ministerial meeting.

“We hope to boost trade significantly in the coming days,” Momen said.

D-8 countries are home to about 13% of the world’s population and account for nearly $4 trillion in gross domestic product and $1.5 trillion in exports.

“We cannot ignore this huge market and the positive impact it can have on our economy. Now is the time to focus more on trade and investment,” the minister said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has offered space for investors from D-8 member countries in the country’s special economic zones and high-tech parks, he said.

He said the meeting discussed trade and investment, industry, energy, agriculture, transport and tourism.

In the wake of the global energy crisis, the meeting also decided to hold a ministerial-level meeting on energy.

When asked if the meeting had discussed buying fuel from Iran, the foreign minister said that Iran wanted to sell fuel but there were certain obligations, that’s why Bangladesh cannot buy it.

“We will exchange technical know-how on best farming practices and alternative energy,” he said.

Wahida Ahmed, Director General of the International Organizations Wing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Toufique Hasan, Director General of the Public Diplomacy Wing, were present.