H.E. Dr. Hadi Soleimanpour, Secretary General ECO, inaugurated the 8th Meeting of ECOTA Cooperation Council on 18-19 August, 2019 at the ECO Secretariat, Tehran. The meeting was attended by the delegates from all, five Contracting Parties i.e. the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Turkey.
Secretary General ECO in the opening session highlighted significance of trade as the foundation of economic growth and socio-economic sustainable development and enumerated promising benefits such as improving living standards of the populace, creating investment opportunities, job creation, industrial growth and technological advancement, which individual economies and region are striving for. He added that the current level of intra-ECO trade hovering around 8 percent of the total region’s trade is not comparable with other peer economic blocs. He referred to the ECO Vision-2025 which stipulates to double intra ECO trade by 2025 from its current level which needs to be pursued vigorously.
He further maintained that there is need to adopt an innovative approach to implement ECOTA or upgrade its mechanism to deliver its aims in the light of the views of the contracting parties. To move forward, he propounded the idea of sectoral application in the first stage and the Council agreed to consider the proposal of the ECO Secretariat by taking it up with their respective Governments.
Deputy Secretary General of ECO, Dr. Sayed Yahya Akhlaqi, in his statement in the Statutory Session underlined that efforts for economic and trade growth are crucial for our region which has great geo-strategic, geo-political and geo-economic significance due to abundant natural and human resources. He maintained that ECOTA can be implemented with more constructive approach and better understanding among the contracting parties.
The Heads of Delegations of the Contracting Parties delivered brief statements underscoring the need for trade liberalization in the region. They presented their views on implementation of ECOTA, highlighted progress and enumerated actions taken by their respective governments to implement tariff concessions. They called upon the need to increase the current level of intra-ECO trade hovering around 8 percent and considered it too low with regard to its huge potential. They extended views to expedite trade/economic integration in the ECO region.
The Council reviewed progress on the decisions taken by the 7th Meeting of ECOTA Cooperation Council held on 23-24 January, 2017 at the ECO Secretariat, Tehran and appreciated efforts made by the ECO Secretariat. The delegates made intensive deliberations on moving forward in effectuation of tariff reduction regime i.e. ECOTA.
At the closing session, the delegates thanked the ECO Secretariat for hosting the meeting. At the conclusion of the Meeting, Mr. Adem Kula, Secretary General ECO-CCI gave a presentation entailing activities of the ECO-CCI and their future plan which were appreciated by the participants of the Council and thanked for their keen interest in implementation of ECOTA.