(Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan) The ninth meeting of the Ministers of Transport of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held on May 3, 2018 to discuss the regulatory and operational requirements for improving the existing transport infrastructure of the region.
Speaking at the inauguration session, which also hosted delegations from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization, said there is a compelling need to cooperate on fundamental transit related policy issues through increasing efficiency, creating a more harmonized and simplified legal and administrative frameworks. The implementation of agreements such as Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA) which is the main legal framework of the Organization is of utmost importance, he added.
The Economic Cooperation Organization seeks to create favorable conditions for the economic growth of the region, the consistent integration of Member States into the world economic relations system, the intensification of interstate relations in the spheres of culture, science and education, therefore the issue of transport corridors occupies a high place on the Organization’s agenda. The implementation of the Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA), harmonization of regional activities with approaches of major international transport agreements, development of GIS maps, were also discussed at the session.
The need for operationalizing the existing ECO transit transport routes on priority basis while harmonizing the ECO’s transit transport network with non-ECO regional transport corridors and main international road and railway lines was high on the agenda, with participants stressing on the need to implement capacity building within the transport and communications sector of the region.
Also discussed was the passage of trade of landlocked Member Countries through coastal territories to access shipping services within the region. Landlocked countries face many hurdles when transiting trade through other territories. Long distances to inadequate transport services and infrastructure, and inefficient institutional and operational transit frameworks, create unfavorable conditions for traders from landlocked countries.
The high level meeting concluded with the adoption of the Turkmenbashi Declaration. The document sets forth a number of concrete actions to improve core targets of the regional transit transport: connectivity, mobility, and accessibility as envisaged in the Organization’s main strategy document, namely the ECO Vision-2025.