Prime Minister Imran Khan participates in the 14th ECO Virtual Summit
Prime Minister Imran Khan represented Pakistan in the 14th Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit, held virtually today. The theme of the Summit was “Regional Economic Cooperation in the Aftermath of Covid-19”.
In his wide-ranging opening address, the Prime Minister congratulated Turkey on successfully organizing the Summit during these challenging times. He highlighted the regional and global health and economic consequences of Covid-19, and elaborated Pakistan’s ‘people and poor-centric approach’ to tackle the pandemic. The Prime Minister highlighted his 5-point plan to provide fiscal space to developing countries to deal with the adverse socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19.
The Prime Minister stressed the importance of stemming the disturbing trends of religious discrimination and Islamophobia in different parts of the world. He underscored that COVID lockdowns had enabled the suppression of peoples in occupied territories struggling for their right to self-determination. The Prime Minister underscored the importance of rejecting any attempt to link Islam with terrorism and opposing the use of ‘freedom of expression’ to cause pain to Muslims by denigrating the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Highlighting the need for close collaboration for enhanced connectivity, trade linkages and energy flows within the ECO region, the Prime Minister recalled the ECO Vision 2025 adopted during the 13th ECO Summit in Islamabad in March 2017. He proposed a mid-term review of progress of its implementation and expansion of requisite cooperation. The Prime Minister underscored the importance of dialogue between ECO and other regional and international organizations to advance mutually-beneficial collaboration.
The Prime Minister underlined the importance of peace and stability in Afghanistan for success of physical integration in the ECO region. He also welcomed the ECO rail connectivity projects such as Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) commercial cargo train and stressed timely completion of cross-border energy projects such as TAPI gas pipeline and CASA-1000 electricity grid.
The Prime Minister underscored that for Pakistan, “the vision of the ECO’s regional economic integration is an essential component of a strategy to transform the tensions of geo-politics into the dividends of geo-economics.”
The Prime Minister made six specific proposals for enhanced regional economic cooperation in the aftermath of COVID-19:
i. Mobilization of national and international resources to recover from COVID-19 pandemic, as per his 5-point plan;
ii. Building of resilient health care systems to respond to such crisis in future;
iii. Development of integrated transport network to facilitate both intra-ECO trade and to serve as pathway for trade with other global economies;
iv. Establishment of ECO Investment Agency along with organization of Annual ECO Investment Fair;
v. Pursuit of trade promotion measures such as simplification of border procedures, establishment of intra-regional institutional linkages, reinforcement of existing regional mechanisms and implementation of ECOTA; and
vi. Promotion of knowledge-based economies, increased expenditures on research and development, and focus on rapid digitalization especially extension of broadband to all parts of ECO countries.
It was decided that the 15th Summit of ECO will be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on ECO Day, 28 November 2021.
4 March 2021