ECO Deputy Secretary General Mr. Kashif Zaman participated in the panel discussion on “Achieving Seamless and Sustainable Connectivity through Transport and ICT Infrastructure” held during the High-Level Euro-Asia Regional Review Meeting of the Vienna Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries in Bangkok on August 22-23, 2023.
Mr. Zaman highlighted ECO’s contributions in development of transport and ICT infrastructure in the region especially for the landlocked Member States. He informed the delegates that considerable number of programs and projects had successfully been implemented to enhance the trade and economic integration of the Member States in the areas of road, rail, maritime, civil aviation, customs and ICT notably the Kazakhstan–Turkmenistan–Iran (KTI) rail corridor, Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) rail and road corridor, Almay-Bandar Abbas and Almaty–Tehran–Istanbul rail corridors, while two other corridors, the Kyrgystan-Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkiye (KUTIT) and Tajikistan-Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkiye (TUTIT) were in initial phase of implementation. He added that the maritime sector was being addressed by the Heads of Reference Maritime Organization of ECO (HRMO) for cooperation among the coastal states and the landlocked countries through offering port facilities as well as preferential tariffs and concessions and in order to maximize the connectivity, and the ECO Secretariat had also started the “ECO Gate” project to study the feasibility of establishing ECO Zones in the Member States for further transit facilitation. A similar initiative titled ‘Air Hub’ had been introduced in Civil Aviation as well.
He further informed the delegates that almost all the ECO Member States had joined essential international transport agreements and conventions including the UN TIR Convention and efforts were being made to promote digitalization of electronic documents and procedures such as e-TIR and e-CMR, and stressed upon the need for a targeted and more active collaboration as a way forward to achieve efficient supply chains supported by a network of intra-regional and inter-regional connectivity. In this connection, he said the existing East-West corridor of Almaty-Tehran–Istanbul offered a relatively suitable alternative solution to the geopolitical restrictions in the northern corridor.