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13TH ECONOMIC COOPERATION ORGANIZATION (ECO) SUMMIT, (26 FEBRUARY - 01 MARCH 2017, ISLAMABAD)
Press Conference by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs (25 February 2017)

(2017-02-25) I would like to welcome all the media persons for attending this press conference, I shall brief you about the ECO, 13th ECO Summit and the expected outcomes from the Summit.

Pakistan is hosting the 13th ECO Summit in Islamabad on 1 March 2017. The Summit will be preceded by the Senior Official's Meeting (SOM) on 26-27 February and Council of Foreign Minister's Meeting (COM) on 28 February 2017.

I would like to mention that Pakistan last hosted the 3rd ECO Summit at Islamabad in May 1995.

Most of the member states have already confirmed participation at Heads of State or Heads of Government level. High level participation of the member states will greatly enhance the vitality and substance of the Summit. ECO Observers and special guests have also been invited to attend the Summit.

The Theme of this Summit is "Connectivity for Regional Prosperity". The Summit will deliberate and decide on ways and means to augment cooperation in the areas of connectivity, trade, energy, tourism, investment, industry, economic growth, productivity, social welfare and environment. Initiatives for furtherance of education and scientific linkages, cultural and people to people contacts within the ECO would also be deliberated upon during the Summit.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an outstanding example of the Summit's theme of Connectivity. It will augment the existing and planned transit and energy corridors in ECO region for greater progress and prosperity for our peoples.

The Islamabad Declaration would focus on the Summit theme of Connectivity as a dynamic concept that encompasses multiple dimensions including transit transport such as rail, road, ports and shipping and cyber linkages. The Summit would act as a catalyst to integrate these initiatives into a comprehensive connectivity apparatus of the ECO.

Three long-term sectoral priorities of the Organization are:

Development of transport and communication infrastructure, Facilitation of trade and investment,

Effective use of the region's vast energy resources.


Background of ECO

Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was established in 1985 by Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. It succeeded Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), which was founded in 1964 to promote cooperation among the three Member States.

In 1992, the Organization welcomed in its fold seven new Members, including Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. The Treaty of Izmir, signed in 1977 and subsequently amended in 1996, is the legal foundation of the Organization.

ECO aims at promoting sustainable economic development of Member States through trade and economic cooperation as well as mutual assistance in social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.

The Headquarters of ECO are located in Tehran. H.E. Ambassador Halil Ibrahim Akca (Turkish National) is the current Secretary General of Economic Cooperation Organization.

ECO consists of four principal organs, the Council of Ministers (COM), the Regional Planning Council (RPC), the Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR) and the Secretariat.

Held biennially, ECO Summit of Heads of States/Governments of member States provides the Organization an overarching strategic guideline as well as political support. The last (Twelfth) Summit was held in Baku, Azerbaijan on 16th October 2012.

The Council of Ministers (COM) is the highest policy and decision-making body of ECO and is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States. It meets once a year by rotation, in one of the Member States.

The Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR) is composed of Tehran based Ambassadors of Member States accredited to ECO. It meets once a month and oversees the working of the Secretariat and takes day to day decisions relating to the Organization on behalf of the COM. 217th CPR meeting was held on 23rd January 2017.

The Regional Planning Council (RPC) is composed of the Heads of Planning Organizations of Member States and meets at least once a year prior to the annual meeting of the Council of Ministers. The last RPC Meeting (27th) was held in the ECO Secretariat Tehran, Iran from 5-8 December 2016.

A list of ECO Specialized Agencies is attached for ready reference.


ECO Initiatives

The establishment of a Free Trade Area in the ECO region (ECOTA) was signed in Islamabad in July 2003 during the 2nd ECO Ministerial Meeting on Commerce and Foreign Trade and entered into force on 24th April, 2008. Operationalization of ECOTA would be a major step towards realization of the Organization's goal of removal of trade barriers.

Transit Trade Framework Agreement (TTFA) is ECO's basic document in the transport sector, providing background for a historical movement toward reduction of cost and acceleration of the transport services through harmonization and modernization of transit transport in the region.

ECO Trade and Development Bank was established in 1995 as a multilateral development bank. It started its operations in 2008. The major objectives of the Bank include facilitating private and public sector investment among ECO member States, mobilizing and utilizing the financial, natural and human resources of member States with a view to capitalizing on the region's economic potential. The Bank is the financial arm of the Organization.

ECO Fund for Reconstruction of Afghanistan is one of the initiatives of ECO. The modalities for a special Fund for Reconstruction of Afghanistan were approved by the 14th COM meeting held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in September 2004. Pakistan has been a leading supporter of this initiative and has pledged a total of US$ 5 million.


Expected Outcomes

Pakistan believes that ECO has the collective strength to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Together we can, and should make a difference. Otherwise, history will not forgive us. The theme of Connectivity would help foster road, rail, air, energy, cyber and knowledge based connectivity. The significance of CPEC as catalyst for regional connectivity and integration would be further highlighted.

The Summit will provide us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to progress and prosperity for the ECO region. It will also enable us to identify new areas of cooperation besides cementing the progress on matters currently under process. A successful and active ECO can serve the interests of all member states.

Adoption of ECO Vision 2025 that lays tangible goals for ECO is another major milestone for the organization. The ECO Vision 2025 envisages that ECO will become a territory of integrated and sustainable economies as well as free trade area achieved by highly educated societies and improved governance through enhanced cooperation.

The Summit would provide a platform to ECO Member states to enhance regional integration through preferential tariffs, activation of established ECO institutions and finalizing an effective transport strategy aiming to boost cross-border connectivity, enhancing trade and strengthening regional economic cooperation in the region.

Pakistan is looking forward to active participation of all member states. Together we can advance regional cooperation agenda for the benefit of our peoples.


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ECO Specialized Agencies

S No.

Name of Institute

Based at

1

ECO Cultural Institute (ECI)

Tehran, Iran

2

ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF)

Islamabad, Pakistan

3

ECO Educational Institute (ECOEI)

Ankara, Turkey

4

ECO Consultancy & Engineering Company (ECO-CEC)

Lahore, Pakistan

5

ECO College of Insurance (ECOCI)

Tehran, Iran

6

ECO Trade Development Bank (ECOTDB)

Headquarters located in Istanbul, Turkey, Two representative offices established in Tehran (2009) and Karachi (2010)

7

ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECO-CCI)

As per agreed formula, the location of the Secretariat of ECO-CCI is rotated among the members. Presently, it is located in Karachi, Pakistan

8

ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ECO-IEST)

Karaj, Iran

9

ECO Postal Staff College

Islamabad, Pakistan

10

ECO Seed Association (ECOSA)

Ankara, Turkey

11

ECO Regional Centre for Risk Management of Natural Disasters

Mashhad, Iran

12

ECO Regional Coordination Centre (RCC) for the Implementation of the Regional Programme for Food Security (RPFS)

Ankara, Turkey

13

ECO Reinsurance Company

The company will be established following the ratification by Turkey and payment of full subscription of share capital by the three contracting member countries