Sartaj becomes chairman of ECO council of ministers
Islamabad: Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has become chairman of ECO council of ministers.
Addressing the meeting after assuming Chairmanship of the 22nd Council of Ministers Meeting here on Tuesday, Sartaj said that the region was facing terrorism and extremism and all will have to make efforts together to face the challenges. Prosperity will come in the region with forging connectivity among member countries.
He stressed the need for implementation of ECO trade agreement and removal of trade and non-trade barriers besides establishment of a Free Trade Area in the region.
He also identified the priority areas for ECO to help realize the dream of transforming the organization into a strong economic block.
Sartaj said immediate attention should be paid to increase intra-regional trade which is far below the potential. He pointed out that lack of regional connectivity was a major impediment to economic cooperation.
He said for movement of goods, there should be focus on corridor based projects for greater connectivity different corridors.
The Advisor said there is need to increase the membership, scope and activities of ECO Trade and Development Bank as well as ECO Re-Insurance Company.
He also proposed enhanced cooperation of public and private sectors of member states through ECO Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He suggested an increase in membership and ratification of ECO Science Foundation to promote scientific and technological cooperation in the region.
Sartaj Aziz called for using the platform of Parliamentary Assembly of ECO to promote democratic values among member states. The Advisor also briefed the participants about Pakistan’s economic achievements that have restored investors’ confidence.
He said the Government is focusing on creation and improvement of infrastructure and expressed the confidence that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would galvanize trade opportunities within the region.
He asked the ECO countries to use Gwadar and the CPEC for economical trade of their goods to other countries.
Addressing the meeting, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the organization should invest more time and energy for implementation of ECO Vision 2025.
He said the member states want the ECO to focus on projects and programmes which bring about maximum economic benefits to members and the region as a whole.
Secretary General of ECO Halil Ibrahim in his address to the meeting stressed the need for sustained efforts and exploring all possibilities for harnessing the full potential of the Organization for development and prosperity.
He said population of ECO region has reached 471 million and its GDP has crossed one trillion dollars. He pointed out that ECO intra-regional trade has increased to 8.3 percent in 2016 as compared to 5.3 percent in 2000.