KARACHI: Member states of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) need to increase integration of regional economies, said ECO Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ECO-CCI) President Zubair Tufail.
Speaking at the 23rd Executive Committee meeting of the organisation, recently held in Ankara, he said that the intra-trade of ECO stands at only $48 billion. This does not commensurate with the harmony and friendly relations ECO countries enjoy with each other. Moreover, the total trade of this region with the rest of the world is only $625 billion, which is only 1.9% of the total world trade, he added.
Tufail said that the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the ECO region was also far from the satisfactory level, which is merely $36.5 billion or equivalent to 2.1% of the global investment of $1.746 trillion.
He underlined the need of early implementation of ECO Vision 2025, which was approved in the last ECO summit held at Islamabad envisaging to double the trade in the region in three to five years.
The meeting also passed resolutions for improving regional economic development for enhancing cooperation amongst the ECO member states in transportation, trade and investment, industrialisation, tourism, arbitration, banking facilities and empowerment of women entrepreneurship.
The simplification of visa regime also came under discussion and the house emphasised early implementation of ECO Visa Exemption Stickers to the business community of the region, which will pave way for promotion of trade and tourism. It was also decided to expand the scope of trade and investment committee of ECO CCI by encompassing SME sector, according to a press release.
Addressing the gathering, Minister of Development of Turkey Lutfi Elvan and Minister of Custom and Trade of Turkey Bulent Tufenkci also emphasised the need for exploring new economic avenues and cooperation in trade and investment.
While appreciating the role of ECO-CCI for the enhancement of intra-trade, they said the ECO region has rich natural resources, which needed to be explored by regular interaction amongst the business community of the region.
The meeting was attended by participants from ECO member chambers including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan and the diplomats of Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Iran.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2017.