Islamabad 26th December, 2016. Mr. Azher Ali Choudhary Secretary, Board of Investment inaugurated the first ECO –IPA meeting at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad and welcomed the participants / Representatives of ECO Secretariat, Tehran and Pakistan delegation. The Secretary, BOI informed that in the 3rd ECO Ministerial Meeting on Finance and Economy held on 21 – 23 December, 2008 in Tehran, it was inter-alia decided to set-up an ECO - Heads of Investment Promotion Agencies (ECO – IPA) Forum on the pattern of ECO - Heads of Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs). Subsequently, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Secretariat during the deliberations of 23rd meeting of Regional Planning Council (RPC) held in Tehran on May 6 – 8, 2013, decided that the member states will volunteer to hold the first meeting of Heads of Investment Promotion Agencies (ECO – IPA). Representatives of IPA’s from Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan participated in the first ECO-IPA meeting. As per ECO Rules of Procedures, Pakistan being the host country chaired the meeting. Mr. Shah Jahan Shah, Additional Secretary, BOI chaired the first ECO-IPA meeting.
Pakistan took the initiative and volunteered to host this first meeting of ECO –IPA. The Secretary, BOI acknowledged the concerted efforts of ECO Secretariat have borne the fruit and after three times postponement, due to non-availability of quorum for this meeting, finally we had gathered here. He wished, if all the heads of IPAs have participated in this first ever meeting to reflect its true spirit. He hoped that all heads of IPAs of ECO member countries would ensure their presence in the future meetings. Secretary, BOI said that this activity of ECO countries will play an active role for the collective advantage of the region. It will boost inter and intra-regional business activity in general and among the member states in particular
The representatives of the ECO-IPA countries present their country statements with regard to Investment policy, conducive environment, regulatory frameworks, Role of IPA’s and potential of trade & investment available in their countries.
The proposed ECO regional Trade and Investment strategy has two components: trade and investment. Enhanced Cooperation in both these areas is vital to economic integration of the Member States. The main purpose of cooperation in the ECO should be to strengthen the regional market, create wealth in the region, and enhance competitiveness through increased production, value added creation, and trade and investment inflows in the region.
Trade in particular and Investment plays a vital role in economic development. In the wake of globalization, the ECO Member States need to take more proactive measures for improving the region’s investment climate to attract higher inflows of FDI. The Member States need to pursue open, liberal predictable and transparent investment policies that may significantly contribute to their economic progress.
Investment promotion measures need to be adopted within the broader framework of an overarching strategy, which covers the overall investment climate, the investment-support institutions, and investment policy and package. The success of the strategy also depends a lot on strong political commitment and leadership. In the context of the ECO, the following major elements of the investment related component of the proposed Multi-Dimensional, Regional Trade and Investment Strategy have been identified:
Ø Image Building.
Ø Opportunity Analysis.
Ø Reforms/Improvement in Regulatory Framework.
Ø Investment Generation.
Ø Implementation of ECO Key Agreements.
Ø Removal of Constrains/Barrier to FDI.
Ø Special FDI Incentives.
Ø Facilitating Linkages.
Ø SME Development.
Ø Industrial Diversification.
Ø Joint Ventures.
Ø Role of IPAS.
Ø ECO Business Council.
Since, foreign trade and investment play a vital role in economic development. Hence, one of the objectives of ECO as embodied in the Treaty of Izmir is “To take measures towards progressive removal of trade barriers within ECO region and expansion of intra and inter-regional trade. “However, ECO remains one of the least integrated regions in the world as well as has a low share in global trade and investment.
In order to increase the level of intra-ECO trade and investment as well as increase the share of ECO in global trade and investment inflows it is essential that the Member countries adopt liberal trade and investment policies and put in place the right institutional mechanism. The proposed strategy provides a framework for Member States to achieve that end. There is also a need for creating greater awareness among the stakeholders in the region about the need for trade and investment liberalization and specify benchmarks and timeframe to measure progress for tangible results.
At the end Mr. Shah Jahan Shah, Additional Secretary, BOI thanked the participants and appreciated their efforts and intention with regard to make this first ECO - IPA meeting successful.
Source: BOI's Official Press Release