The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit which took place in Islamabad on Wednesday 1st of March, collectively discussed the challenges of terrorism and drug trafficking this region faces.
They pledged to work towards doubling the intra-regional trade, which currently stands at 8 percent, in the next 5 years through ECO trade agreements which would remove existing trade barriers. General Halil Ibrahim Akça, ECO Secretary told the leaders that 20 percent should be the target.
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The ECO countries collectively pledged their support towards the organizations objective while keeping in account the significance of expansion of cooperation in the region.
The 10 member states, which participated in the summit, asserted “collective determination to face regional challenges together, such as extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking and address unresolved conflicts, to make the region a zone of peace and prosperity,” in a statement which was issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs later that day.
The Islamabad Declaration 2017, affirms that the member countries will collectively make an effort to enhance and overcome energy needs, infrastructure, transport and trade for regional prosperity. Among these challenges was also the improvement of tourism in the region and concerns regarding climate change for the benefit of the whole region.
“The[y] also reviewed the performance of the ECO, the progress made since the Baku Summit in 2012, and underlined the challenges and opportunities lying ahead, giving directions to pace up progress in various sectors.”
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President Rouhani of Iran and President Erdogan of Turkey along with the heads of states of the member countries were present during the conference. While Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan and the elected chairperson of this summit, appreciated the role played by the organization in multiple fields.
Upon highlighting the importance of the region, he reassured it is Pakistan’s obligation to meet the objectives of the organization and hope to increase progress for regional integration exponentially.
The Afghan Ambassador during the ECO Summit urged Pakistan to re-open its border crossings to allow trade, he stated, “It will be the right message if Your Excellency instructs an immediate opening of our formal trade and transit routes between our two brotherly countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They have now been closed for about two weeks, without adequate reasons, causing enormous hardship to ordinary people and a lot of damage to traders on both sides.”
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Upon the conclusion of the summit, awards were given in the field of economics, history, culture and fine arts, science and technology, education, agriculture and environment.