The First Expert Group Meeting on Banking, Financial Matters of ECO and Forming ECO Clearing Union was held on 11th May 2021, in virtual mode. The Islamic Republic of Iran hosted the meeting. The Experts from six ECO Member States participated in the meeting. The delegates included the experts from the Finance Ministries/Departments and Central Banks from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan. Representatives from ECO TDB as well the Representative of the ECO Secretariat also attended the meeting.
In his opening statement, Dr. Sayed Yahya Akhlaqi, emphasized that the “ECO Vision 2025” should be the main agenda of the Organization until 2025, and member states may make every effort to realize the goals and targets set forth in the Vision. He encouraged that the meeting to discuss the means and ways to achieve the strategic objective set out in the ,کECO Vision 2025′ for trade sector:
,ک To double intra-regional trade increase ECO share in the global trade and specifically exports, increase share in global trade and tap regional trade potential for economic growth’.
Dr. Akhlaqi briefly explained the key features of the arrangement of the proposed clearing union among the Member States and its effects as well as difference between the Clearing Union and Regional Payment Arrangements.
The meeting discussed the importance of the banking and financial sector as a trade facilitation measure to expand regional trade and investment to achieve the targets set in the ECO Vision 2025, and deliberated on the role of clearing systems, especially for economic recovery in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the meeting meticulous attention was paid to the proposal of establishing ,کECO Clearing Union’ among the central banks of the ECO Member States. The meeting came up with the detailed recommendations for setting up the arrangement including taking the relevant stakeholders from private sector, onboard.
The subject document is envisioned to be adopted during 5th Ministerial Meeting on Finance/Economy.
It is expected that a clearing union will reduce the indirect and hidden cost of trade related transactions as well as the time involved in these transactions. The overall impact of such a clearance system will boost the intra-regional trade among the ECO Member States which is a partly around 8% of their trade with the world.
It may be recalled that the World trade of the ECO Countries was recorded at US $ 484 billion and the intra-ECO trade with figures of US$ 40.4 stood, a partly 8.3 % of the ECO Members World Trade.