ECO Members Urged to Take Seriously Reinforcing Intra-Bloc Trade
IRAN NEWS ECONOMIC DESK
TEHRAN – The 18th general assembly meeting of the executive committee of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held on Tuesday virtually with presence of Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and during the meeting, Iran was appointed as the rotating president of the ECO Chamber for two years and the next meeting will be held by Afghanistan.
During the virtual meeting, participants called for using all capacities of the ECO member states for playing a key role in the region and all emphasized that ECO member states should unite more for improving trade in the ECO region. Meanwhile heads of chambers of commerce of Turkey, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iran urged the private sectors of ECO countries for playing more roles and called for shaping trade among ECO members and implementation of preferential trade agreements.
Addressing the meeting, Head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce Mr. Gholamhossein Shafei emphasized the necessity for reinforcing the trade among the ECO member states and reminded that achieving the goals set by the ECO for 2025 relies on the cooperation between private and government sectors of the member states.
He added that despite neighborhood and having joint borders and as the result the lower transportation cost which is a strong point for boosting trade, unfortunately the intra-bloc trade has not grown significantly.
Shafei added that ECO members had trade worth around $780b with the world in 2019 but the share of intra-bloc trade was only 7.6 percent of the figure, namely, around $59b which shows no major significant change comparing to 2018.
He noted that one of the reasons for the decline in the intra-bloc trade is the lack of preferential agreements among the member states or delay in implementation of the ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) which is one of the trade agreements in the ECO level group, reiterating that all member states should move in the direction of removing hurdles in way of its implementation.
He also urged the ECO members to take necessary measures for achieving the ECO 2025 Outlook goals.
Shafei reiterated that tourism especially health tourism, as well as transit, transportation, using rail or road corridors and launching new corridors as well as cooperation in the fields of oil, gas and petchems especially in the private sector levels are of appropriate grounds for cooperation among the members.
He expressed hope with the persistence of the ECO Chamber and its secretariat, development of cooperation in the said fields would get favorable results.
Shafei further said that one of the grounds which have been delayed by the members for cooperation especially in the private sector is the industrial investment and joint production with utilizing the existing knowhow and raw material in the region.
He also called on the ECO members to develop e-trade especially in the coronavirus condition.
At the end of the meeting, Iran was officially named as the rotating president of ECO Chamber for two years.