Group of Eight Developing Islamic Countries (D-8) Approve Ten Year RoadmapPublished on 10 July 2008 @ 10:57 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By Wagdy Sawahel for Intellectual Property Watch
Leaders of the Group of Eight Developing Islamic Countries (D-8) this week adopted an ambitious 10-year blueprint to substantially expand trade and economic cooperation with the aim of improving the position of Muslim developing countries in the global world economy, according to the Kuala Lumpur declaration on meeting global challenges through innovative cooperation.
The declaration was adopted at the end of the two-day biannual Sixth D-8 Summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 7-8 July. D-8 countries are members in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
The meeting coincided with the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Japan that included the industrialised nations Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We consider this summit as a turning point in history of D-8 cooperation while celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the organisation adopting the 10-year roadmap and other basic documents to enhance cooperation and solidarity among ourselves,” the declaration said.
Formed in 1997, the D-8 is a forum to enhance cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, rural development, human resource development, science and technology, energy, agriculture and health to improve the economic status of member states.
The D-8 secretariat is based in Istanbul, Turkey, while the post of the secretary-general is held on a rotational country basis and will be held by Malaysia for the next two years.
Ten-Year Roadmap for Economic Cooperation
The declaration endorsed the Roadmap for Economic Cooperation in the Second Decade of Cooperation (2008-2018) as “the vision to guide our activities in the next ten years” and instructed the D-8 Commission as well as the secretariat to translate the roadmap into action plans.
The roadmap is aimed at increasing trade between member states from the current five percent to at least 10 to 15 percent of the total trade volume of D-8 countries. It places emphasis on three areas: a preferential trade agreement (PTA) that will be the main vehicle of trade between member countries, the customs agreement that will facilitate the movement of goods, and the visa agreement enabling smoother travel of the business community from one member state to another.
To date, only Malaysia and Iran have ratified the PTA, which will only enter into force when it has been ratified by at least four member states. The declaration also welcomed signing by Malaysia of the agreement on simplification of visa procedures for D-8 businessmen and its ratification by Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.
The Commission of D-8 will examine an initiative of Iran on the establishment of a Joint Investment Fund for supporting implementation of D-8 projects, according to the declaration.
The summit expressed satisfaction on the significant growth in internal D-8 trade from US$14.5 billion in 1999 to US$60.5 billion in 2007, representing an increase of more than 200 percent over a period of 8 years, and hoped that the trade volume would further increase with the entry into force of the PTA.
A Call for Fairness and Transparency of International Trade System
The international financial and trade system is an important component of international cooperation and should be fair, transparent and non-discriminatory, the declaration said.
It should take into account the differences in the conditions of developing countries, particularly in ensuring equal access into the global economy and international economic organisations, it said. It also emphasised the importance of a meaningful and fair conclusion of negotiations of World Trade Organization Doha Development Round as soon as possible, and reaffirmed “full support of the speedy accession” of Iran into the WTO.
Iran has adopted a new intellectual property law in a bid to harmonise its system with internationally accepted practices and to come to grips with the fast-paced changes in the world of trade and industry (IPW, Developing Country Policy, 13 June 2008).
The declaration also recognised the need to address the current global food shortages, considered it a threat to socio-economic stability, and global environmental concerns. The group promoted joint ventures between their companies on projects to produce fertilizers, animal feed and create a seed bank to ease supply constraints in agricultural output.
Need for Plan of Action
Anwar Nasim, president of the Federation of Asian Biotech Associations and chair of Pakistan’s National Commission on Biotechnology, welcomed the declaration saying “it is important to focus on how to implement the declaration to promote science-based trade.”
“An action plan to promote technical cooperation is needed bearing in mind the importance of establishing an intellectual property rights system in D-8 countries to promote science investment,” Nasim told Intellectual Property Watch.
Atta-ur-Rahman, coordinator general of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, said a strong intellectual property regime is necessary for progress in technology and termed private-sector research and development projects crucial for real advancement on the technology front.
Agreeing with Nasim`s view, Hassan Moawad, professor at Cairo’s national research centre, told Intellectual Property Watch “This summit has issued concrete resolutions which should be implemented and followed up and not just remain as good projects on paper.”
Moawad said the D-8 has an advantage for promoting trade as it has a market representing a population of 930 million, and capabilities in member countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and Iran could be considered developed in many aspects while Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan have the necessary human capital to advance further in many fields of development, and Pakistan is considered advanced in technology being a nuclear power.
D-8 countries should build up their technology foresight system – assessing the future needs and opportunities for the economy of a region or country, in the light of technological and market trends – to systematically identify priorities for technical cooperation between their private sectors for industrial competitiveness and socio-economic benefits.
Moawad said D-8 countries also must promote technical cooperation among patents and industrial property offices and must be sensitised to the effect of legislation relating to the intellectual property rights on international trade.
Moawad added that the D-8 must organise training programmes to assist member countries in following WTO negotiations in this field and the cited the role intellectual property could play in technology transfer.
Wagdy Sawahel may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.