Terrorism undermines ECO states’ economic progress: FM
ISTANBUL: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that terrorism, drug-trafficking, trans-national organized crime and natural disasters were undermining efforts for economic progress and prosperity of the people.
"This calls for innovative approaches and focused attention on socio-economic development of the region," he said while speaking at the 19th Council of Ministers meeting here ahead of the 11th ECO head of states summit meeting.
He said that global peace, stability and prosperity were indivisible, adding, "the global effects of economic and financial turmoil are not far behind us." He stressed on the need for devising mechanisms to effectively respond to contemporary challenges with enthusiasm and dedication.
There is a plethora of chal- lenges threatening the region, he said. The Foreign Minister said that one of the fundamental objectives of the ECO was to ensure liberalization of trade through lowering trade barriers.
The ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), therefore, remains at the heart of ECO's ambitions to establish within the region, a free trade area by 2015, he added.
He said that the agreement had the potential to create vast opportunities for the economic uplift of the peoples and together with the Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA), it could prove to be the engine of growth in the region.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pakistan and Turkey have agreed to implement ECOTA bilaterally and Afghanistan too has conveyed the positive, negative and sen- sitive lists in the context of ECOTA.
He hoped that the other signatories would also provide the necessary lists at early date so that this important agreement is implemented in the near future. At the same time, he added, Pakistan strongly urges the non-signatories to join this Agreement.
He said the development of an efficient and modern transportation and communication network among the ECO member states is an important factor in the expansion of trade and socio-economic integration.
He said, "Pakistan welcomes the commencement of the ECO Islamabad-TehranIstanbul Container Train which had its inaugural run in August last year." He said the recent launch of the ECO Silk Road Truck Caravan is a very important milestone achieved by the Organization, adding, this linkage would not only help boost trade, but also serve as an effective vehicle to increase people-to-people contacts and promote tourism among the member countries.
He expressed the hope that this Caravan, like the ECO Container Train, would be able to start its regular run in the near future. Qureshi told the meeting that the existence of trade, transit and transport corridors across the region will guarantee economic development and the prosperity of our people.
He said that the ECO Trade and Development Bank has started its operations and a Representative Office has been opened in Pakistan. It will play a crucial role in providing the necessary financial security to the business community of the ECO region, he added. -PB News