Nov 29, 2021, 3:08 PM
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ECO founders working together to promote regional transportation

Islamabad, IRNA – Ambassador of Pakistan to Iran terming the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) road corridor vital for region says the founding members of the ECO are making joint efforts to promote regional transportation.

Rahim Hayat Qureshi in an article published in the daily ‘the Nation’ said in 1964, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey came together and formed the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD). It was a visionary initiative as regional economic groupings were not in fashion.

He said later the RCD was reactivated as the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). Later, in another historic development, after the Central Asian Republics (CARs) became independent states, the membership base of the Organisation was expanded, and with the inclusion of both CARs and Afghanistan, it reached 10.

He said the common theme of economic prosperity through the building blocks of trade, connectivity, tourism, energy, and cultural cooperation struck a chord with all the members who were self-motivated to preserve their independence and also promote economic progress and prosperity.

He added the region that constitutes the present-day Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) is unique in many ways. The people of the region are historically known to share common bonds of faith, culture, and connectivity through land and sea.

The ambassador said over the years, ECO has undertaken major initiatives in the field of connectivity, trade, energy, tourism, and cultural, social, and scientific development. It has also established its regional institutions and specialized agencies.

The purpose is to enhance visibility and outreach to the peoples of the region and to reactivate the same old trading activity that is used to define the region. Some such initiatives include: (i) building trade corridors for eliminating restrictions and obstacles in the way of promoting intra-regional trade; (ii) establishing an ECO visa regime to promote tourism and people-to-people contacts; (iii) promoting scientific, cultural, and educational cooperation; and (iv) establishing regional financial institutions such as the ECO Trade Bank and ECO Clearing Union to finance regional projects, etc.

The major breakthrough achieved in the field of transport during the current year was the operationalization of the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Road Corridor. On October 7, 2021, two cargoes were despatched from Karachi, Pakistan to Turkey and Azerbaijan each under the TIR Convention. They conducted successful operations with the efficient cooperation of the relevant authorities of Iran and Turkey.

The envoy added the ECO-ITI project was first initiated in 2011 and after consistent follow-up and support by the Member States—Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey—as well as the ECO Secretariat, was finally operationalized to serve the cause of regional connectivity and economic integration. Its transit operations can be further improved by the digitalization of the corridor to simplify the administrative procedures involved during the border crossings and while transiting.

Rahim Hayat Qureshi emphasized holding the 15th ECO Summit is another turning point in the history of this economic organization and at the same time ECO members should expand financial support to Afghanistan to prevent human and economic crises and this will be considered a big step.

Yesterday, on the sidelines of the ECO Summit, the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, met with the President of Iran Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, and stressed the need to increase bilateral cooperation between the two neighboring countries, especially the implementation of barter clean mechanism.

The 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was hosted by Turkmenistan on Sunday with the participation of the leaders of the member states. President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi expressed the point of view of the Islamic Republic on regional relations and Iran's concerns in the field of security, terrorism, and the economy.

The president during separate meetings with his counterparts also stressed the need to improve relations in various fields.

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