Yesterday, Istanbul hosted the Developing 8 Organization for Economic Cooperation (D-8) summit, a meeting that also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the group. Since first proposed by then Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan in the 1990s, members of the group, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, have held nine meetings, including yesterday's chaired by Turkey.
At a time of great changes around the globe affecting our common economic and social future, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the summit that the D-8 does not have the luxury to stay stagnant, calling for solidarity in addition to improved commercial cooperation. Collaborating around the cherished ideals of peace, dialogue, justice, democracy and ending violence, the group can stand against confrontation, hypocrisy, exploitation, discrimination and oppression, he added. Turkey's desire to transform the D-8 into an effective international organization with real clout was reflected in Erdoğan's suggestion to cooperate and support African countries suffering from hunger and terrorism.
On the commercial front, the president proposed member countries trade in their own currencies, an issue Turkey has been pursuing with many of its major trade partners. In a meeting with Iran's First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also raised the subject.
Jahangiri and Yıldırım's discussion covered security issues and the recent independence referendum in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), but developing commercial relations was also an important topic. Yıldırım, speaking after the meeting, said the two countries had agreed to conduct trade in local currencies and the central banks would establish the necessary banking infrastructure in the coming days.
The cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) of D-8 countries is $3.7 billion as of 2017, with a total population of over 1 billion, 15 percent of the global population. Turkey and Indonesia are also members of the G20. If these eight countries succeed in conducting their trade ties in their own currencies, it would be a major sign of independence and an incredible symbol of economic cooperation.
Not many countries achieve the economic leap from developing to developed status, and the current global economic system of haves and have-nots makes it even harder. Figures indicate that only 13 countries out of 101 were able to shatter the glass ceiling keeping them down and rising to developed status between 1960 and 2008. With young, dynamic populations, efficient and growing productive capacities, the D-8 has members that are or are working to become important global actors. However, those countries that already have influence do all they can to keep the less fortunate down, while those catching up demand fairer sharing of the global pie.
Among the strategies used by developed countries to keep others down is to sow ethnic and sectarian violence and support proxy wars. These countries most definitely need to band together and develop their own strategies to counter threats and economically develop, which necessitate investments in education, human resources and technology while following fiscal and monetary discipline. They also have to introduce alternative strategies like trading in local currencies to increase efficiency and make a difference.
If D-8 members succeed in instituting the necessary administrative reforms to attract investment while quickly establishing the physical and technological infrastructure required by modernization, each one of these countries has the capability of joining Turkey and Indonesia as members of the G20.
Yesterday's meetings demonstrated each of these countries' desire to have a greater say in humanity's future, and the D-8 can well become the basis of their common rise.