July 06, 2020: The Specialized Committee Meeting of Trade Facilitation of ECO Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ECO-CCI) was held via video link and attended by representatives of the Chambers of Commerce & Industry of member countries including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Pakistan and ECO Secretariat.
The meeting was presided over by Mr. Amjad Rafi, Chairman National Committee of ECO-CCI (Pakistan Chapter) and Chairman Specialized Committee of Trade Facilitation and Shaikh Sultan Rehman, Vice President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) also attended the meeting from Pakistan.
While chairing the meeting, Mr. Amjad Rafi Chairman stated that the real challenge of trade facilitation is to minimize transaction costs and the complexity of international trade for businesses, without compromising efficient and effective levels of collection of customs revenues and other border controls.
He also highlighted the pandemic situation and measures taken by the Government to minimize the risk for trade and industry. He also discussed in details the issues related to regional cooperation, trade cost, ECO visa sticker scheme, intra-ECO investment, exchange of knowledge, tariff rationalization, implementation of ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), ECO Trade Fair, ECO exhibition, technological transformation, joint ventures, promotion of barter trade and opening of border gates, implementation of ECO trade transit agreement, etc.
Shaikh Sultan Rehman, Vice President FPCCI emphasized on promotion of international trade and investment among the ECO countries. He pointed out that intra ECO trade is very low: 7-8 percent while the Intra-regional trade of other trading blocs is more than 50 percent; for example, in EU it is 55% and 58% in NAFTA.
He added that expanding trade volumes requires trade liberalization, harmonization of policies, reducing the cost of doing business, financial infrastructure, economic efficiency and institutional capacity building. He urged the member countries to move towards the export of high value-added, medium-to-high technology exports by upgrading and diversifying their industrial structure.
Dr. Syed Yahya Akhlaq, Deputy Secretary-General ECO Secretariat also updated the status of implementation of ECOTA. He further informed that the agreement will come into force after approval in the next meeting ECOTA Cooperation Council likely to be held in August 2020 and ECOTA will be implemented either at the end of 2020 or early 2021.
The house also suggested the holding of training sessions and workshops regarding the imports/export procedures among member countries. During the meeting, the participants shared the experience of pandemic and measures taken by their government for facilitating their trade and investment by their government.