ECO Economic Cooperation Organization

Introduction

Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), is an intergovernmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey for the purpose of promoting economic, technical and cultural cooperation among the Member States.

ECO is the successor organization of Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which remained in existence since 1964 up to 1979.

In 1992, the Organization was expanded to include seven new members, namely: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan. The date of the Organization’s expansion to its present strength, 28th November, is being observed as the ECO Day.

The ECO region is full of bright trading prospects. Despite its young age, ECO has developed into a thriving regional organization. Its international stature is growing. Nevertheless, the organization faces un-daunting challenges with respect to the realization of its objectives and goals.

Most importantly, the region is lacking in appropriate infrastructure and institutions which the Organization is seeking to develop, on a priority basis, to make full use of the available resources in the region.

Over the past 12 years, the member states have been collaborating to accelerate the pace of regional development through their common endeavors. Besides shared cultural and historical affinities, they have been able to use the existing infrastructural and business links to further fortify their resolve to transfer their hopes and aspirations into a tangible reality. ECO has embarked on several projects in priority sectors of its cooperation including energy, trade, transportation, agriculture, and drug control.

Member States

According to the Article XIII of the Treaty Of Izmir, “Any State enjoying geographical contiguity with the ECO region and/or sharing the objectives and principles of ECO may apply to become a member of the Organization.”

Currently, ten countries from West and South Asia, Caucuses and Central Asia are Members of the Organization: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Purpose of ECO

According to the Article-II of the Izmir Treaty, the purposes of the organization would be

Maintaining the financial growth of Member States;

Liberal elimination of buying and sell obstacles and encouragement of intra-regional deal and the better part of ECO section in the expansion of worldwide business;

Steady incorporation of the Member States’ economies with the economy of the world;

The growth of transportation and interactions infrastructure connecting the Member States with each other and with the outer globe;

Financial privatization and liberalization;

Enlistment and use of material assets of the region of ECO;

Efficient utilization of the trade and agricultural perspective of the region of ECO.

Region-based collaboration for drug violence manage, environmental and ecological fortification and intensification of past and civilizing binds amongst the peoples of the region of ECO and

Equally useful collaboration with local and global organizations.

Ideology of ECO

According to Article III of the Izmir Treaty would be based on the following ideology:

Autonomous impartiality of the member states and joint benefit;

Connecting of nationwide financial, growth policy with urgent and long-standing aims of the ECO to the level likely;

Combined endeavors to achieve freer entrance to marketplaces outer from the region of ECO for the raw stuffs and ended goods of the Member States;

Efficient use of ECO associations, accords, and supportive planning with other local and global organizations with polygonal monetary associations;

Universal actions to expand a coordinated loom for contribution in local and worldwide preparations;

Understanding of financial collaboration plan and interactions in scientific, educational, cultural and technical domains.

History

Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) is an inter-governmental regional organization encompassing countries from Europe, Caucuses and Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia with more than 460 million inhabitants and over 8 million square kilometers connecting Russia to the Persian Gulf and China to Europe.

The overall objective of the Organization is the sustainable economic development of its Member States and the Region as a whole.

Established as Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) in 1964 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, the Organization was renamed as “ECO” in 1985.

In 1992 and in the aftermath of collapse of Soviet Union, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and six former Soviet Republics, namely, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan also joined the Organization, forming one of the biggest regional blocs in Asia and beyond.

Over the past three decades or so, the ECO Member States have been collaborating to accelerate the pace of regional development through their common endeavors. Besides shared cultural and historical affinities, they have been able to use the existing infrastructural and business links to further fortify their resolve to transfer their hopes and aspirations into a tangible reality.

In March 2017, Heads of States/Government of the Member States in their 13th Summit in Islamabad endorsed “ECO Vision 2025” where main directions of the ECO in the years to come are drawn.

ECO Organization

The ECO functions through its intergovernmental machinery, Secretariat and specialized agencies and regional institutions.

The intergovernmental character of the Organization is represented through different bodies which include meetings of Heads of State/Government, Council of Ministers (COM), Regional Planning Council (RPC), Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR), sectoral ministerial meetings as well as expert groups, working groups, committees, etc.

Summit

According to Article IV of the Treaty of Izmir, the Heads of State/Government of the Member States meet biennially or more often if considered necessary by the Member States.
The Summit meetings review the objective conditions and progress in the implementation of ECO programmes and projects in the highest-level forum possible exchanging views on regional and global issues of common interest to the ECO region.

Since ECO enlargement in 1992, 13 Summit meetings have been held. The last meeting, 13th ECO Summit, was held on 1st March 2017 in Islamabad, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Council of Ministers (COM)

The Council of Ministers (COM) is the highest policy and decision-making body of ECO.

It comprises the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States who meet in regular, informal and extraordinary sessions.

The Council of Ministers may, if deemed necessary, propose the convening of meetings of other Ministers in the formulation of plans and projects in their respective fields through sectoral or joint ministerial meetings.

The Council of Ministers is responsible for decision on/approval of policies, strategies, work programmes; appointment of senior management (Secretary General and his Deputies as well as Directors); establishment of subsidiary or ad-hoc Committees; approval of annual budgets and audit reports; setting the assessed budgetary contributions of Member States; approval of fiscal and administrative rules and regulations and organizational charts, etc.

Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR)

The Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR) is a standing ECO intergovernmental body responsible, on behalf and in the name of the Council of Ministers, for pushing forward the policies charted by the Council of Ministers. It also makes necessary preparations for decisions to be taken by the Council of Ministers.

Permanent Representatives/Ambassadors of the Member States who are accredited to the ECO are members of the CPR which meets as often as necessary under the chairpersonship of the representative of the Member State holding the chairpersonship of the Council of Ministers. 9)

Regional Planning Council (RPC)

The Regional Planning Council (RPC) is the main technical planning body within ECO which comprises the heads of the Planning Organizations of the Member States as well as officials and experts from the national sectoral ministries and agencies.

RPC convenes its annual meetings prior to the regular meeting of the Council of Ministers under the chairpersonship of the representative of the Member State holding the chairpersonship of the Council of Ministers. Meetings are normally held in the ECO Headquarters in Tehran.

The Regional Planning Council is responsible for the preparation of the programmes of action for realizing the objectives of the Organization along with stocktaking of previous programmes. It may also propose to the Council of Ministers the establishment of regional institutions and ad-hoc committees in priority areas of cooperation.

Annual RPC meetings are normally structured along one plenary session as well as several parallel sectoral committees dealing with the priority sectors of the Organization.

One-year programmes of work and ECO calendars of meetings are also developed by RPC meetings on the basis of the proposals made by the Secretariat and the Council of Permanent Representatives.

Sectoral ministerial meetings and other meetings

The Council of Ministers may, if deemed necessary, propose the convening of meetings of other Ministers in the formulation of plans and projects in their respective fields through sectoral or joint ministerial meetings.

There are also other intergovernmental gatherings at the lower levels where senior officials/experts of the Member States convene their meetings to address specific mandates/tasks granted to them.

These include, among others, high-level expert groups, high-level working groups, committees, working groups, task groups, workshops, etc.

Secretariat

ECO Secretariat is located in Tehran, Iran. Professional and supporting staff from nationals of the Member States are working in the Secretariat. Temporary consultants/experts are also hired to fulfill special tasks and duties.

The Secretariat is responsible to support membership and the Organization through secretariat services, including advocacy support for meetings and programmes. The Secretariat is also engaged in initiation, implementation and monitoring processes of the ECO regional projects and programmes. External relations of the ECO are also managed by the Secretariat. 12)

H.E. Dr. Hadi​ Soleimanpour (Iranian national) is ECO Secretary General. He is the 12th Secretary General of the ECO who started his tenure in August 2018.

ECO subsidiary and affiliated bodies

ECO is assisted by its specialized agencies and regional institutions, as well as bodies affiliated to the Organization.

Having a legal personality and autonomous management, these subsidiary bodies of the ECO deal with areas of regional cooperation such as economic growth, culture, science, technology, education, finance, etc.

ECO Trade & Development Bank

ECO Cultural Institute

ECO Science Foundation

ECO Educational Institute

ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry

ECO College of Insurance

ECO Regional Coordination Centre for Food Security

ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology

ECO Consultancy & Engineering Company

ECO Regional Center for Risk Management of Natural Disasters 13)

ECO Vision 2025

The vision statement is “ECO will pave the way to a territory of integrated and sustainable economies as well as free trade area achieved by highly educated societies and improved governance through enhanced cooperation”.

Core Principles are Sustainability, Integration, and Conducive Environment.

Cooperation areas are Trade, Transport and Connectivity, Energy, Tourism, Economic Growth and Productivity, and Social Welfare and Environment.

The implementation Framework provides for tangible outcomes along with a timeline and responsible entity/member country. For further details ECO Vision 2025 and Implementation Framework

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