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President Goodluck
President Goodluck Jonathan has said Nigeria as the current Chair of Developing Eight countries (D8), welcomes the establishment of the Joint Investment Fund as a vehicle for expanding the scope, volume and value of trade, hoping to use the private sector to drive it.

He has also said Nigeria would fast-track the ratification of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and others reached at the 6th summit in Kuala Lumpur.

The President had also said for the D8 countries to achieve the intra-trade target of $1.7 trillion by 2012, the development of the maritime sector was vital, adding that it would undoubtedly support the growing trade volumes and targets member states had set for themselves.

Speaking at the formal handing over of the Chairmanship of the D8, countries to Nigeria by the Malaysian government in Abuja, Jonathan noted that the vision that brought the D8 countries together in 1997 was to create a unique platform which would coordinate and fast-track efforts for development cooperation among member countries.

'At that inaugural Summit, we pledged to combine our strengths and special endowments to generate the best outcomes both for our individual countries and for the group as a whole. 'In a world which has truly become global, in which our fate as individuals and countries has now become completely interconnected and interdependent, individualism or going it alone has become obsolete and counter-productive.

'Our recognition of the power of cooperation in maximizing outcomes explains why we have chosen the theme of the 7th Summit of our organization as 'enhancing cooperation among D8 member-states.' This theme seeks to remind member-states of the constitutive pledge we collectively made in 1997 to strengthen cooperation and coordination in the priority sectors of our economies.

'My vision is to see the D8 focus on practical and achievable means of enhancing private participation in our activities. Mindful of the central role of trade as an engine of economic growth, I have directed the relevant organs of my government to fast-track the ratification of the Preferential Trade Agreement, Customs Cooperation Agreement and Visa Regulatory Regime as agreed at the 12 sessions of the Council in Kuala Lumpur. I expect this process to be completed very soon and our assent to these agreements duly formalized.

'I believe the early adoption of these agreements, which truly reflect the vision and spirit of our organization, would set the stage for mutually beneficial trade and business engagements among our various countries,' he said. Continuing, Jonathan said, 'the adoption of the D8 Roadmap for the second decade of cooperation (2008-2018), at the 6th Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, reflects our collective determination to mainstream our organization's activities into our national trade and economic programs. Since the targets of the roadmap aim to expand trade among D8 members, the early adoption of the PTA and related agreements becomes all the more urgent. In this regard, I welcome the proposal for the establishment of the D8 Joint Investment Fund as a vehicle for expanding the scope, volume and value of trade and investment among our countries.

'Nigeria as Chair, hopes to drive this innovative approach to development and encourage private sector led cooperation in priority projects in such areas as energy, civil aviation and infrastructural development. In his remark earlier, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, while handing over the chairmanship of the organization to Nigeria, pledged Malaysia's full support for Nigeria's chairmanship of the D8 and for the efforts it will be undertaking in ensuring the successful realization of the D8 states.