The “4th Seminar on Trade Patterns in the ECO Region and WTO Issues” was organized by the ECO Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and ECO Trade and Development Bank (ETDB) on October 25-26, 2017 in Islamabad, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The Seminar was held in premises of “Pakistan Institute of Trade & Development” (PITAD), the Government of Pakistan’s institute for trade capacity-building and human development. The Seminar was opened by the Chief Guest, H.E. Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Minister of Commerce of Pakistan. He underlined the importance of regional economic cooperation in view of the rapidly changing global environment. He emphasized that while other countries are moving towards regional economic integration, ECO remains one of the least integrated regions.
He expressed his concern on the non-operationalization of the ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), despite passage of 14 years. He informed that Pakistan is open to discuss all proposals by Member States to make ECOTA more beneficial and more inclusive to all Member States. He proposed that the leadership of the ECO region may sit together and deliberate upon measures, during the forthcoming ECO Ministerial Meeting on Trade in January 2018, to reinvigorate the trade to make ECO a viable regional economic entity.
The Guest of Honour, the President of ECO Trade and Development Bank H.E. Javaid Aslam also addressed the Seminar. He underlined the importance of regional economic cooperation and WTO membership in increasing the trade of the ECO Membership and assured that the Bank will continue to support the ECO Member States.
Dr. Muhammad Adnan, the ECO Director for Trade and Investment, in his statement thanked all the participants for attending the Seminar and ECO Trade and Development Bank for its support. He also acknowledged the role played by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran and Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic in completion of the quorum. At the end of the Plenary Session, on behalf of the Secretary General of ECO, Plaques were presented to the honourable Minister of Commerce of Pakistan, the President of the ECO Bank, and the Director General of PITAD.
Eminent speakers from Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Pakistan Customs, Trade Dispute Resolution Organization, Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan covered the following topics in the Seminar:
- Trading patterns in ECO ,“ 1995 to present: An Overview
- An Overview of the WTO Accession Process and Benefits of Memberships
- ECO Trade: Opportunities and Challenges for Member Countries
- Regional Trade Integration – A Study of the ASEAN Experience and Lessons for the ECO
- Analysis of the Comparative Advantages of the ECO Countries
- Intellectual Property Rights and prospects of Cooperation between ECO countries
At the end of each presentation, the forum discussed the questions and observations raised by the participants. The participants taking into account the statements, presentations and the views expressed during the Seminar made their recommendations for consideration of ECO Member States and the Secretariat.
On the evening of the first day, the honourable Minister of Commerce of Pakistan hosted a dinner in honour of all the delegates, ECO Secretariat delegation and various officials from the Government of Pakistan. Ms. Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce attended the dinner on behalf of the Minister of Commerce. While speaking on the occasion, she said that there were rich historical and cultural links among ECO countries. She emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation to realize the true potential of the ECO.
On the last day, in the closing remarks, Mr. Ilyas Ghori, Director General of Pakistan Institute for Trade and Development (PITAD) of Ministry of Commerce of Pakistan thanked the representatives for their participation as well as for their recommendations/suggestions during the course of deliberations. He appreciated the ECO Secretariat and ECO Trade and Development Bank for their contributions.
This was followed by the Certificate distribution ceremony and formal closing of the Seminar.