TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Foreign minister of Iran called on the group of Eight Developing Islamic Countries (D8) to withstand external economic risks and barriers, and stressed the need to enhance and strengthen economic and commercial multilateralism.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif delivered a speech to the 18th session of the D8 Council of Ministers, held in Turkey’s Antalya on Saturday.
In his comments, Zarif underlined that the D8 members need to join the large block of nations, who stand up against unilateralism.
Without directly naming the US, the top Iranian diplomat called on the D8 states to refuse to give effect to any irresponsible and illegal acts, including criminal sanctions against Iran.
What follows in the full text of his speech to the gathering:
“Mr. Cavusoglu, the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey,
Distinguished Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to participate in the 18th Session of the D-8 Council of Foreign Ministers in the beautiful city of Antalya and have the opportunity, once again, to confer with my distinguished colleagues. I wish to convey my sincere appreciation to the Government of Turkey for the warm reception and generous hospitality extended to my delegation and myself. I would like also to extend our sincere thanks to the Secretary-General, H.E. Ambassador Dato' Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari, and his colleagues for their diligent efforts.
Over the span of 20 years, the D-8 has gradually transformed into a valuable platform for enhancing effective economic cooperation among its Member States. This Organization has had from the beginning the potential to strengthen our standing and position in the global economy, diversify our economies, create new opportunities in our trade relations, enhance our participation in the decision-making process at the international level and improve the standard of living of our peoples.
Our mostly common cultural affinities and history have also helped us in our endeavors to form a common aspiration for economic and social development for our peoples in our respective countries. On the basis of our Organization’s potentials as well as our commonalities, the D-8 is a platform that offers immense opportunity for cooperation and realization of our shared aspirations.
What we need to do is to adopt appropriate strategies for cooperation, despite the diversity in the geopolitics of our sub-regions. Our strength lies in our steady growth and the constant development of a large internal market working as both a manufacturing hub and a consumer base. We need to aim at proving our capability to be a stabilizing factor in the volatile global economy. We also need to build on our own synergies and complementarities, thus enabling us to withstand external economic risks and barriers as well as other known and unknown challenges that we may face in the future.
We welcome the preparation of “the D-8 Decennial Roadmap for Economic Cooperation (2020-2030)” and the prioritization of activities under this roadmap in the areas of trade, agriculture and food security, among others, that gives us the vision and necessary instruments to guide our activities in the coming years.
Let me also briefly touch upon another important issue. The economic report recently released by the IMF has predicted low growth rate and recession for the world economy. There should be no doubt that unilateralism and growing trade barriers and sanctions are the main reasons for the situation that has given rise to such a negative outlook. Unilateral trade actions, retaliatory measures and economic sanctions could disrupt the global economy and undermine broader multilateral cooperation at a time when it is urgently needed. Under these circumstances, it is now more than ever necessary for us to enhance and strengthen economic and commercial multilateralism, including through frameworks such as the D-8. In general, D-8 Member States need to join the large block of nations, who stand up against unilateralism and, in particular, refuse to give effect to any irresponsible and illegal acts, including criminal sanctions against my country.
Trade is an engine for economic development. Total trade among D-8 countries is valued at USD 100 billion; with an average annual growth rate of 6 percent. However, the target for intra-trade within D-8 Member States is USD 500 billion. Achieving this target requires proper facilitating instruments. While welcoming the operationalization of the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) in order to promote intra-regional trade among D-8 Member States, we need to explore other trade facilitation mechanisms such as financial and banking cooperation and payment mechanisms.
In this context, we appreciate the initiative for the establishment of the D-8 Clearing House. As we have been hosting the Asian Clearing Union since 1974, we are fully ready to share our experiences with D-8 Member States to achieve this important objective.
We strongly believe that the private sector should be involved in all areas of cooperation such as trade, investment, industry, agriculture, social interactions and tourism. We need to encourage the private sector to participate appropriately in economic and commercial activities of the Organization. The private sector can play a central role in advancing innovation, creating wealth, income and jobs and mobilizing domestic resources. These are activities that can lead, among others, to poverty reduction.
We acknowledge the key role of energy in economic growth and development, and are committed to expanding cooperation in this sector. The Islamic Republic of Iran has one of the world's largest reserves of gas and oil and is ready to contribute to global energy security as a long-term partnership, and to increase the capacity of international transit corridors through joint ventures in maritime, rail and road infrastructure.
Human capital is a key factor for economic development. I am confident that the establishment of the D-8 International University in the city of Hamadan, initiated for capacity building among Member States, can greatly contribute towards human resource development.
Since most of D-8 Member States are coastal countries, I would like to propose that it considers the inclusion of "Blue Economy" as another field for cooperation. Blue economy has an estimated turnover of between US$3 to 6 trillion dollars globally every year. It provides for employment, ecosystem and cultural services, fishery and aquaculture. Therefore, cooperation among D-8 Member States towards developing blue economy has great potential for enhancing sustainable development and can strengthen economic growth and poverty reduction.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been and remains committed to the objectives of the D-8 and will continue to supports this Organization towards the achievement of its goals.