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ECO must be made into a formidable economic block, says Pakistan

Adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday called for joint efforts to transform ECO into a formidable economic block through full exploitation of its human and material resources.

He identified the priority areas for ECO to help realize the dream of transforming the organization into a strong economic block.

Aziz said immediate attention should be paid to increase intra-regional trade which is far below the potential.

He called for implementation of ECO trade agreement and removal of trade and non-trade barriers besides establishment of a Free Trade Area in the region.

Radio Pakistan further quoted him, as pointing out that the lack of regional connectivity was a major impediment to economic cooperation.

He said for movement of goods, there should be a focus on corridor based projects for greater connectivity different corridors.

Aziz said there is a 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.

Aziz called for using the platform of Parliamentary Assembly of ECO to promote democratic values among member states.

He also briefed the participants about Pakistan’s economic achievements that have restored investors’ confidence.

The government, he said, 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.

The adviser pointed out that the region is faced with multiple challenges including terrorism, drug trafficking and other trans regional organized crimes. He said concerted efforts are required to meet the challenges and take forward the development agenda of the region.

Highlighting the economic progress made by the country over the last four years, the adviser said all the economic indicators are positive which has raised the confidence of investors. He said the country is also pursuing a comprehensive anti terrorism policy. He said we are committed to provide smooth and safe transit for trade of goods.

Addressing the meeting, outgoing Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the organization should invest more time and energy for implementation of ECO Vision 2025.

He said continued regional cooperation within the ECO framework would require enhanced institutional and operational capacities in the organization. (ANI)