Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Your Excellencies - the Honourable Foreign Ministers of D-8 Member States,
Excellency, The Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalamu Alaikum and a very good day to you all.
I would like to extend my congratulations to Your Excellency Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey for your successful tenure as the Chair of the D-8 Council of Ministers and also appreciate Your Excellency for the phenomenal contribution that was made to the D-8 under your stewardship.
2. I would also like to thank the Secretary General H.E. Ambassador Ku Jaffar Ku Shari for the proactive measures and initiatives that he and his team have undertaken to help Member States foster the values of D-8.
3. I am glad to welcome you all to this virtual platform of the 19th Session of D-8 Council of Ministers. I would of course be happier if I could have had your gracious presence in Bangladesh. But considering the global pandemic situation, I consider this virtual meeting to be a great opportunity to make this inter-governmental organisation capable of responding to the challenges of future for the mutual benefit of all.
4. After chairing the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation for two years during the period of 1999 – 2001, Bangladesh is going to hold the Chairmanship of the D-8 for the second time after two decades. This is happening at a time when we are celebrating the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and we are also observing the Golden Jubilee of our independence. Moreover, recently Bangladesh has fulfilled the UN criteria for graduating from the LDC Group of countries. We are indeed honoured and happy for having the opportunity of chairing the D-8 at this historic moment.
5. The theme of the 10th D-8 Summit is “Partnership for a Transformative World: Harnessing the Power of Youth and Technology” keeping in mind that the youth of D-8 Member States would be fully prepared to reap benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and shall be equipped sufficiently to cope with the ever-changing world of Information and Communication Technology. As we all know that D-8 countries have a combined population of 1.1 billion people; of which 207 million, nearly 19 per cent, are aged between 15-24 years. We only need to tap the unbound potential of this youth turning the D8 into a vibrant, dynamic, and lively one.
6. Bangladesh also has a large and potential youth population. We are prioritising technical and vocational education to provide greater access to skills training for our future assets. Bangladesh has become a popular destination for foreign students who want to pursue higher studies, including in technical studies. In this regard, I believe that the SEACO University Network will provide a good platform for emerging subjects including the 4IR, and it can also provide a stable online education platform for our students. Youth education and suitable employment are essential to harnessing the opportunities for economic growth associated with the demographic dividend. We need to train our youth in the skills needed for a future that is digital and innovation driven. D-8 requires to take leadership in this particular area to ensure job creation while equipping them with the right skills. A D-8 incubation initiative might be a good option to consider. In this regard, Bangladesh strongly believes in enhancing knowledge-sharing and connectivity amongst D-8 Member States.
7. From the very beginning of this pandemic, the Government of Bangladesh has put equal importance on the lives and livelihood. The government announced 31-point directives immediately after the breakout of COVID-19. We have provided stimulus packages worth more than 14.6 billion dollars equivalent to around 4.44% of our GDP for our population.
8. As the whole world is experiencing an unprecedented global public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I personally feel the urge that, we, the D-8 Member States need to stand together more than ever. Since the overall objective of this global organisation is to improve Member States’ life and livelihood situation through multiple approaches, I earnestly hope to create a D-8 digital marketplace, and create a suitable-for-all resilient post-pandemic cooperation model to ensure the common interests of all member states.
9. In order to minimise the worsening effects of Covid-19 on the world economy, Bangladesh would like to explore all avenues for economic recovery through collaboration among the D-8 Member States. Bangladesh believes in a free and equitable access to markets for not only products but also services. It would obviously facilitate D-8 governments and private sectors to come together to highlight how D-8 Member States can deepen connectivity, networking and collaboration in light of experiences of the Covid-l9 era.
10. Bangladesh will take all pragmatic initiatives to open new avenues of cooperation among the D-8 Member States with the aim of making this Group even more vibrant, active and of course, effective. We seek your support in our endeavours.