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ECO states reiterate resolve for regional integration


3/2/2017

Moot welcomes CPEC as catalyst of entire region’s development

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

The 13th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) at its meeting here on Wednesday decided to build and promote mult-dimensional connectivity to exploit the true potential of the region and transform it into a strong economic bloc.

The moot, hosted by Pakistan, was attended by all the ten members, special guest China and observers. Islamabad declaration issued after the conference emphasized the need to augment cooperation in the areas of trade, transport and connectivity, energy, tourism, economic growth and productivity and social-welfare and environment as identified in Vision 2025.

The moot welcomed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a far-reaching initiative that would act as catalyst for the development of the entire region.

It agreed to double the current level of intra-ECO trade within the next 3-5 years, including through implementation of ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) and other ECO trade-related arrangements; as well as identification and elimination of physical and non-physical barriers to this end. It called for making ECO Reinsurance Company operational at the earliest and encourage other Member States to join it.

It was agreed that the member countries will develop, operationalize and commercialize the ECO intra-regional transit networks as well as corridors connecting ECO Region with other regions in line with the ECO rail and road development plans, with a view to building the required infrastructure needed for bolstering trade and transport connectivity within the Region and beyond.

Sustainability, integration and conducive environment were declared as the three core princinciples of vision 2025 and the summit emphasized the need to augment cooperation in the areas of trade, transport and connectivity, energy, tourism, economic growth and productivity and social-welfare and environment as identified in Vision 2025.

Addressing the Summit, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for intensified collaboration to exploit enormous potential of ECO to turn the region into a citadel of peace, progress and prosperity.

The Prime Minister called for sustained focus on key areas identified for cooperation in the Islamabad Declaration including trade, transport and energy which could lead to a transformative change across the region.

He pointed out that meaningful trade in the region cannot take place without better cooperation on transport, infrastructure and connectivity among the member states.

He said time has come for ECO to make momentous advances for practical realization of the theme of the summit “Connectivity for Regional Prosperity”. He said theme of the summit assumes special relevance as more countries of the region are already making huge investment in connectivity projects.

Central Asia has emerged as Trans-Eurasia land bridge and oil and gas pipelines are linking our markets with the rest of the world.

The Prime Minister said no other project better symbolizes Pakistan’s conception of win-win cooperation through connectivity than China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. It is now being recognized as a catalyst for energy, infrastructure, transport, connectivity and trade in the whole of South and Central Asia.

The heads of state and governments in their addresses also highlighted the challenges faced by the Muslim Ummah and the region and stressed the need for solidarity and joint efforts to meet them.

In his press stakeout, Nawaz Sharif said the collective political will of ECO leaders is unambiguously reflected in the Islamabad Declaration. Nawaz Sharif said ECO Vision-2025, adopted by the summit, sets pragmatic and realistic goals along with implementation framework.

The member states would collectively endeavour to build and promote connectivity in multiple domains.

He said the summit has emphasized on the need for regional cooperation in the energy sector focusing on infrastructure development and intra-regional energy corridors.

Our countries remain committed to strengthening cooperation to address common challenges of climate change and food security.

He said the leaders emphasized the importance of linkages between higher education and research institutions as well as developing partnerships in science and technology.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said successful holding of the summit is a manifestation of the desire and commitment of the member states to transform ECO into a vibrant regional block.

He said it is also a testament to Pakistan’s commitment to act as a harbinger of positive changes and meaningful development in the region.

He hoped that the member states would continue to work in harmony for the continued prosperity of our peoples.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for early completion of reforms in ECO, strengthening of human resource of ECO Secretariat and an evolution of a mechanism for ownership of projects. He laid stress on cooperation in energy and said his country would support all initiatives aimed at realization of this objective.

The Turkish President underscored the need for greater cooperation in agriculture, environment and tourism.

He said Turkey is implementing a number of big infrastructure projects that would link the country with neighbouring countries and regions through rail, roads, sea and air. This includes construction of the world’s largest airport in Istanbul urged the need for resolution of political disputes and joint efforts to tackle the menace of terrorism.

Addressing the Summit Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow said ECO is important for constructive dialogue among member states. He said ECO has set the direction of development of the member states.

He said ECO has significant potential for expanding partnership particularly in vital areas including security.

Turkmenistan President said construction work on Turkemnistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline has been started and implementation of this project is being realised with the participation of ECO member states.

Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev said ECO has evolved into a multilateral platform to facilitate development of the region.

He said the organization should give priority to communication and infrastructure projects. He said Kazakhstan is also implementing huge projects that would link the country with Europe and the Chinese project of One Belt One Road.

Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Ulugbak Rozukulov proposed joint projects in transport, energy and communication sectors.

He also proposed intensified collaboration in agriculture sector aimed at achieving food security.

He said Uzbekistan is working on a number of infrastructure development projects in collaboration with other neighboring countries including Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman corridor.

Addressing the Summit, Afghanistan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal reiterated that his country is committed to the realization of aims and objectives of ECO.

Source: Pakistan Observer