Plans to increase economic cooperation between member nations of the D-8 (Developing-8) countries include the formation of a common textile market and a regional garment brand.

The proposals were made last week at a meeting of the D-8 textile and garments working group on industrial cooperation in the capital Dhaka.

Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey are members of the D-8 forum - and between them have a combined population of nearly 1bn and offer a market worth US$20bn for finished textiles and garments.

"All member countries of the forum have agreed to form the common textile market through making its secretariat functional," Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told just-style.

The meeting was chaired by Mr Mohiuddin and attended by delegations from Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

Turkey also proposed setting up guidelines on the academic and research capabilities of the D-8 member countries; Indonesia proposed the harmonisation of textile testing standards; and Egypt suggested forming a common body to facilitate investments.

A report on the meeting of the textile and garment task force noted that efforts to establish a common market will require the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers, the withdrawal of quotas on all textile products, and a one-stop multiple visa service for textile executives.

Other steps would include the formation of a D-8 chamber of textile business, developing a common website for all D-8 textile and garment information, and intra-market trading of apparel items.

Currently, the tariff structure varies among member countries on the basis of both nature and magnitude and it is believed that any uniform or no duty structure in the group could benefit its members significantly.

The BGMEA chief said Bangladesh should play a key role in establishing the common textile market among the D-8 member countries.

Even though it is the second largest clothing exporter in the world, Bangladesh's exports to the other D-8 countries is still insignificant. In fiscal year 2011-12 Bangladesh exported clothing worth $727m to D-8 member countries - just 3.0% of its total exports.

"There is ample scope to improve inter-regional trade among the D-8 member countries," Monirul Islam, associate professor and dean of the faculty of textile clothing, fashion design and business studies at Bangladesh University of Textiles, told just-style.

The formation of a common textile market will depend on willingness of the governments of the D-8 member countries, he noted.