Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday urged the Developing Eight (D-8) countries to establish enduring trade partnerships for the prosperity of their peoples. The prime minister was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a four-day trade exhibition being held on the margins of the D-8 Summit, at Pak-China Friendship Centre in Islamabad. All D-8 countries including Turkey, Iran, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and the host country Pakistan have put their products on display at their designated pavilions. Addressing the representatives of the participating countries, the prime minister said D-8 countries had a huge market of close to a billion people and stressed that intra-trade was the surest way to improve their economic indicators. “Promotion of business-to-business linkages among the member countries lies at the core of D-8’s strategy to promote economic welfare of our peoples,” he said. The prime minister hoped that with consistency, the D-8 countries could achieve the intra-D-8 trade target of $500 billion by 2018, and may even surpass it. He sought an early removal of non-tariff barriers to benefit from the full potential of intra D-8 trade. He also proposed promotion of trade in services, which would immensely benefit D-8 countries. The summit focuses on trade promotion through implementation of agreements on preferential trade and visa facilitation for businessmen. The prime minister will open the D-8 Business Forum on Tuesday. Both events will be the flagship events of the D-8 Summit to be attended by top corporate leaders from Pakistan and other members of the Group. Raja Ashraf said Pakistan was keen to expand business and trade relations with the D-8 member countries. He mentioned that Pakistan had ratified all three key agreements including the one on Preferential Trade and was convinced that implementation of tariff concessions under this agreement would lead the D-8 community towards greater economic integration. The prime minister accompanied by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Commerce Minister Amin Fahim and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Ammad Khan later went around the exhibition and visited stalls of the participating countries. Over 100 stalls have been setup by different companies from abroad while around 40 Pakistani companies have also put their products on display. The D-8 countries’ share in global trade has already increased from $67 billion in 2008 to $130 billion last year, which is almost double and in this event a strategy will be chalked out to increase their share by 15 per cent. The event was attended by exhibitors and business delegates and the representatives of trade bodies.