ISLAMABAD, March 1 (APP): Secretary General of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Halil Ibrahim Akca, Wednesday stressed the need to implement its agenda and plans to achieve the shared goals and objectives of prosperity in the region.
In his welcome remarks in the 13th ECO summit, he said the summit was of prime importance as it offered a great opportunity to the ECO members to review the progress made so far and guide it in its future endeavours.
Congratulating Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on his unanimous election as Chairman, he hoped that under his able leadership, the ECO would progress further in implementing its agenda for regional prosperity and stability.
All the ten member states including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan besides a special representative from China participated in the summit. Representative of Afghanistan’s president also attended the summit.
Highlighting the potential and importance of the ECO region, he said the population of the region had reached 471 million which had witnessed 30 % growth as compared to 20 % growth of the world population during the last 15 years.
Meanwhile he said the aggregate GDP (Gross Domestic Product) had touched US$ 1795 trillion with per capita income close to US$ 4000.
He maintained that the ECO aggregate GDP growth in relation to the world witnessed upward trend as it moved from 2.1 % (in the year 2000) to 2.63 % in 2015.
The ECO secretary general said the performance of the organization on trade front remained modest and hoped that this sector would also see adequate growth in future.
The SAs per 2015 figures, he added, the trade of ECO was only 2.1 per cent of the world trade.
Halil Ibrahim Akca said the intra regional trade which was 5.3 % of the world trade, registered a slight increase to 8.7% in 2015.
He said this was sector which required for efforts to boost and achieve the ECO target of 20%.
He said since the last summit, the ECO was endeavoring to implement the projects in trade, transport and energy, which continued to be the core areas of ECO agenda besides other issues of global and regional importance including food scarcity, industrial production environment and tourism.
About the trade and investment sector, he said the ECO Trade and Investment Bank has expanded its operations to the other ECO member states while the trade capacity building project was being carried out with the help of United National Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to improve standards and quality of our industrial production.
However, he said the non operation of ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) needs new approach by the member states to achieve its goals.
In the transport sector, the secretary general said the activities of the ECO remained the strongest.
Under the transport framework agreement, several initiatives had been undertaken in partnership of Islamic Development Bank.
Special emphasis had been given to corridors to provide the landlocked countries access to the seaports in the south and market in east and west.
He said the ECO countries had not tapped the full potential of the cooperation in energy sector though major pipeline projects were also in the ECO portfolio.
Certain progress had been made in renewable and alternative energy fields, he added.
Counting the achievement of ECO for acquiring observer status in the UN and its affiliated bodies, he also indicated the interest of the world organizations in environment sector.
Highlighting the agriculture sector, he said this field was of paramount importance to achieve food security in the region and developing countries.
This sector needed the ECO attention as it employed some 37% of the population of the region, he added.