Tehran Times | 19 January 2009
ECO to establish free trade area by 2015
Tehran Times Economic Desk
TEHRAN - The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) will establish a free trade area by 2015, ECO Secretary General Khurshid Anwar said here on Sunday.
Pointing to the pivotal role of economic cooperation and integration in the region, he said that gross domestic product (GDP) of the member states of the organization has exceeded one trillion dollars, IRINN reported.
He added the ECO members’ international trade in 2007 surpassed $570 billion, whereas trade among the members in the same year was nearly $33 billion.
He made the remarks in the first meeting of the directors of the Trade Promotion Organizations of member states, which came a few weeks after the third meeting of the ECO finance ministers in Tehran.
Turning to the ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), Anwar said the agreement aimed at establishing a free trade area covers 80 percent of the member states products.
The Malaysian ECO secretary general also stated that memorandums of understanding will be signed on investment expansion, visa issuance, trade development, private sector contribution to trade, etc.
The ten members of the Economic Cooperation Organization are Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The member states have had notable progress and cooperation on energy, as well as fighting drugs and organized crimes, Anwar said on December 27 adding, “At least five meetings are held every month in the ECO secretariat headquarters to develop trade.”
On the establishment of an ECO trade and development bank, Anwar noted that the plan, which is in line with the agreement made for supporting joint investment by the member states, will have positive outcomes.