The ECO delegation participated in the 3rd Ministerial Conference on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in Asia and Pacific, in virtual mode. The Conference was organized by the UNESCAP and ADB on 28-30 September 2022 in hybrid mode.
The ECO representatives, including the Director (Trade & Investment) and the Director (Transport & Communications), actively participated in the discussions and sensitized the participants about various imitative, policies and projects undertaken by the ECO Secretariat to enhance regional integration in line with the targets set in the ECO Vision 2025, particularly in the priority areas of trade, investment and connectivity.
Mr. Zahid Hussain Abbasi, Director (Trade & Investment), ECO Secretariat explained the nexus between the Global Supply Chains, Global Values Chains and delivery of the finished products at the doorsteps for consumer, how natural calamities like pandemic and geo-political conflicts cause disruptions in complex supply webs and affect our lives causing shortages of essential items, higher costs etc. He elaborated the role of regional market integration to meet these challenges by promoting Regional Value Chains (RVCs), promoting conditions to create trade flows by reducing tariff and Non-Tariff costs, channelizing more funding in MSMEs/ SMEs, introducing new clauses in Trade Agreements for tariff and National Treatment ( for frontline workers) harmonization of policies etc. He explained economic potential of the ECO region and invited development partners to allocate more resources to augment efforts in the south for increased development with better access to internet to mitigate digital divide, SMEs development and their capacity building and socio-economic development. He invited inter-regional cooperation among South Asia, South East Asia and Central/ West Asia in connectivity and trade facilitation to offset future challenges to the regions.
Mr. Akbar Khodaei, Director (Transport & Communications), ECO Secretariat touched upon the global and regional challenges affecting the seamless and sustainable connectivity including, inter alia, over-dependence on single mode of transport, global uncertainty, increasing expectations for rapid delivery, technology adaptation and integration, enhancing data networking, pro-activeness and responsiveness, environment and climate change, safety and security. He also underlined the necessity to address the global challenges collectively and highlighted the role of the Governments in tackling the impediments.
The Director of transport also briefed the session on the policies of the Organization for promotion of sustainable connectivity and invited the international stake holders to join hands to collaborate for a better and well connected region. He further detailed the connectivity projects, inter alia, Almaty – Bandar Abbas and Almaty – Istanbul Rail Corridor, Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Iran Rail Corridor; Islamabad – Tehran – Istanbul (ITI) Rail and Road Corridor, Kyrgyz Republic-Tajikistan-Afghanistan- Iran (KTAI) Road and Rail Corridor, Kyrgyz Republic – Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Iran Road Corridor (KUTI), Tajikistan – Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Iran – Turkiye Road Corridor (TUTIT), Promotion of eCMR and eTIR and a few other connectivity projects.