ECO should shun protectionism: Dastgir

Bloc can become a big success as it has a lot of resources

Ppi March 04, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, while underlining importance of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO), has said that the bloc is blessed with a lot of resources and it could become a big success.

“The 13th ECO summit (held recently) was a historic opportunity that envisioned a future for the bloc that would achieve economic connectivity, strengthen private sector and reduce poverty,” Khan said while speaking at a three-day meeting of the ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the FPCCI Capital House on Friday.

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Business leaders and diplomats of ECO member-states were present on the occasion.

The minister emphasised that the ECO could make progress if it abandoned the protectionist mindset, reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers, facilitated visa and customs procedures and mutually accepted standardisation.

“We have missed many boats and now we cannot afford to remain aloof to the world which is changing at a fast pace. We have to sincerely seek to improve economy, trade and resource-sharing,” he remarked.

Speaking on the occasion, FPCCI President Zubair Tufail, who is also president of the ECO Chamber of Commerce, said the economic bloc was a vehicle that could lead its member-states towards peace and prosperity.

“It was evident from the manner in which the ECO conference was conducted and efforts for increased infrastructure connectivity were pushed,” he said.

Beyond resolutions, the conference adopted Vision 2025 - a road map for the next decade - and undertook restructuring of the organisation’s headquarters and secretariat in Tehran in line with modern standards.

Tufail praised adoption of the Islamabad Declaration, which envisaged doubling of the current level of intra-ECO trade over the next three to five years.

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“Our government must ensure now that infrastructure and connectivity projects that it has undertaken are completed on time to meet goals of the ECO conference,” he stressed.

“The time is ripe for all the countries to turn paper declarations into socio-economic realities across the region.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2017.

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