0427 GMT February 18, 2020
“ECO remains untapped potential for economic integration and cohesion in our region. Our top agenda should be the realization of an ECO Community, where peace and stability are promoted, the wellbeing of our people is further improved, and our common rich values will prevail,” Zarif said on Saturday in an address to the 24th meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), in Turkey’s coastal city of Antalya, Tasnim News Agency reported.
“With a population of half a billion people, incredible geographical location, abundant energy and mineral resources, rich human resources, huge trade market, and historical and cultural affinities, the Economic Cooperation Organization possesses what it takes to be a success story for multilateral cooperation among nations”, the top Iranian diplomat said.
However, he said, the continued challenge for us is first and foremost the lack of fitting models for regional economic cooperation; a paradigm for regional economic development.
Accordingly, the existing ECO regional architecture should be re-configured to this effect, Zarif said.
The Iranian foreign minister said that “ECO Vision 2025” is our latest endeavor to enhance regional integration and connectivity in different areas of common interest, including transit and transport, energy, trade, and tourism.
Corridor development and corridor management activities are considered as an institutional priority in the transport sector, Zarif said.
He said that Iran have invested huge amounts to develop the missing links. However, there are major projects awaiting implementation by the Member States, particularly Transit, Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA).
In order to increase total trade of the ECO member states which is far below our expectations, bilateral and multilateral procedures for simplification and harmonization of regional trade are necessary to help make a trade in the region faster, cheaper and more predictable. Carrying out financial transactions with national currencies, bartering, cutting costs and reducing delays and speeding up customs clearance are some approaches that need to be strengthened.
Establishing a green tourism destination with diverse products and high-quality services in the region is an objective of ECO Vision 2025.
The Iranian foreign minister also said that ICT related activities can also serve as a catalyst for further progress. In this regard, we attach great importance to the implementation of the “2025 ECO Regional Strategy for Information Society Development” and Plan of Action, which was approved by the 2nd Meeting of ECO Ministers of ICT in December 2017 in Baku.