Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for greater multilateral cooperation and global solidarity to bravely deal with the "looming humanitarian crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and subsequent sanctions and counter-sanctions."
"As the world is passing through a difficult time due to Covid-19 pandemic, conflicts, food and energy crisis, climate change and natural disasters, the need for strengthened multilateral cooperation and global solidarity deserves more attention than ever," she told the inauguration of the 20th session of D-8 Council of Ministers on Wednesday in Dhaka.
D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an organisation for development cooperation among Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkiye. It was officially launched in Istanbul in 1997.
PM Hasina said that while the world was reeling from the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has pushed the world to a fresh danger.
She mentioned that countries like Bangladesh have been bearing the brunt of the impacts of the war most.
"Prices of the essentials have gone beyond the purchasing capacities of most of the people," she said.
The premier said that the government in Bangladesh has taken comprehensive measures to mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and revive it to desired growth trajectory.
"Our sustained efforts in all areas of socio-economic advancement have paved the way to graduating from the LDCs," she said.
The prime minister said that last month, she opened the longest bridge in Bangladesh, the Padma Bridge, which is an engineering marvel built entirely with the country's own funds.
However, she said, there are many challenges for Bangladesh in its endeavours to be a developed country. In this regard, she said that global warming and climate change has posed a tremendous threat to the country's existence.
The prime minister said that the D-8 countries with more than one billion population have enormous potentials for economic cooperation.
She proposed establishment of a D-8 Economic Zone in Bangladesh for investment by the member countries aimed at accelerating their collective economic growth.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is ready to provide space at its Special Economic Zones for investment of the member states.
"If it begins the process now, within the next decade, it will have a robust D-8 Economic Zone," she said.
She called upon the D-9 countries to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the grouping with new focus on some specific areas for the next decade.
The areas are: Preferential Trade Agreement or PTA, D-8 Economic Zone, ICT, diversified agriculture to ensure food security and alternative energy sources.
Regarding the finalisation of the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement, she said, it will help harmonise the intra-country trade, liberalise the barriers, and stimulate trade and economic cooperation among the member states.
The premier said that the 25-year-old D-8 is now poised to deliver its goal of economic development through creating synergies.
"This is possible through political commitment and meaningful cooperation between our public and private sectors. The immense possibility that we have, if realised properly, will heighten our power as an economic bloc," she told the meeting.
She urged the member countries to "work together to provide the impetus for harnessing our potentials towards a prosperous future."