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Old Friday, April 28, 2006
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Default ::. Pakistan And The Eco



Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), is an inter-governmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for the purpose of sustainable socio-economic development of the Member States.
ECO is the successor organization of Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which remained active from 1964 up to 1979.

In 1992, the Organization was expanded to include seven new members, namely: Islamic State of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan.

This region could obviously not remain unaffected by this transformation. The winds of freedom blew across central Asia and the Caucasus. In their bid to open up to the outside world, and as a manifestation of their urge to revive their historic affinities with the peoples of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, the newly-independent Republics of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan sought ECO's membership. They were readily admitted. Afghanistan also followed suit. ECO thus transformed from a small trilateral entity into a major grouping of ten Member-States.

The expanded ECO covered a territory of more than 7 million square kilometers—immensely rich in natural resources including oil and gas. It embraced over 300 million people—hard working and imbued with great entrepreneurial spirit. The mutual relations of Member-States exuded harmony and cordiality. They all possessed the requisite political will to make ECO a successful enterprise.


The Organization defined the long term perspective and sectoral priorities in the form of three action plans—the Quetta Plan of Action (1993), the Istanbul Declaration (1993), and the project oriented Almaty Outline Plan (1993). It was realized from the outset that objectives could be fulfilled only if a beginning was made from the fundamentals. In ECO, the fundamentals were defined to be the following:

i. development of transport and communications infrastructure;
ii. facilitation of trade and investment; and
iii. effective use of the vast energy resources.


Simultaneous with the identification of priority areas, the task of institution-building was begun. The Third ECO Summit Held in Islamabad in March 1995 witnessed the signing of documents pertaining to Six ECO Institutions and two regional arrangements. These included: ECO Trade and Development Bank, ECO Reinsurance Company, ECO Shipping Company, ECO Air, ECO Cultural Institute (Tehran) and ECO Science Foundation (Islamabad). The two agreements that have come into effect are, ECO Transit Trade Agreement and Agreement on Simplification of Visa Procedures for the Businessmen of ECO Countries.

In 1998, during the 8th ECO Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting, the council signed the Charter of ECO Education Institute to be established in Turkey; a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation Against Smuggling and Customs Frauds; and the main text (without annexures) of the ECO Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA).


In line with the set of priorities, tremendous attention has been devoted to the development of physical infrastructure. The project-oriented Almaty Outline Plan underscores the importance of a modern transport and communication infrastructure linking the ECO member-states with each other and with the outside world. The Plan envisages:

a) enabling trucks to travel from one end of the region to the other;
b) expansion and integration of national railway networks;
c) expansion of air connections to connect the capitals and major cities of each of the ECO countries;
d) expansion of port facilities to handle sea-borne trade of the region; and
e) conclusion of bilateral/multilateral agreements within or beyond the region to facilitate such transport including access through new border and custom posts that may be established.


The other priority area is trade facilitation. In that context, an MoU was concluded in 1992 establishing a Preferential Tariff Arrangement between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. It provides for 10% reduction in tariffs on a list of specific items. Within its framework, it is being endeavored to gradually reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers as well as expand the list of commodities for preferential treatment.

To supplement the efforts for trade promotion, two important instruments viz. the ECO Transit Trade Agreement and the Agreement on Simplification of Visa Procedures for the Businessmen of ECO countries were concluded during the 1995 ECO Summit and entered into force in December 1997 and March 1998 respectively. The establishment of the Trade and Development Bank in Istanbul and the Re-insurance Company in Karachi would provide further impetus to enhanced intra and inter-regional trade.


The ECO region is immensely rich in energy resources—particularly oil and gas. The extraction and effective utilization of these resources holds the key to regional progress and prosperity. Steps have been taken to concertize regional cooperation in the field of energy by planning a network of gas and oil pipelines and inter-connection of power grids.


ECO's Extraordinary Summit Meeting of 13-14 May 1997 on Development of Transport and Communication, hosted by Turkmenistan at Ashgabat, was a landmark event for the region.
At the 5th ECO Summit Meeting held in Almaty in May 1998, Pakistan proposed that ECO should launch a multi-dimensional economic development programme on the model of Pakistan 2010 programme.

The most significant event in 1999 was the convening of the ECO Council of Ministers meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan from 18-21 May. A number of decisions, including the approval of holding the next ECO Summit Meeting in Kyrgyz Republic during the year 2000 were taken by the Council. Pakistan remained energetically involved during the discussions at Senior Officials level as well as in the Ministerial meeting.

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