ECO: Focus on 'trade over politics' (The Express Tribune (Pakistan))

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) member states should ensure regional integration through preferential tariffs, establishing efficient common institutions and an effective transport strategy, said Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Patron Shahid Rasheed Butt. He said the ECO members were reluctant to introduce meaningful tariff-cuts and agreed on the function of common institutions compared to the other regional blocks like the EU, ASEAN and GCC that preferred trade over politics. With combined population of 436 million, shared cultural and historic affinities, a combined growth rate of 5% and GDP at $1.9 trillion, the intra-regional trade remains at dismal 7%, he observed. “A regional trade corridor linking Islamabad, Tehran and Istanbul will boost regional trade and bring EU closer to the region,” he suggested. “Similarly, Pakistan-Iran-Turkmenistan and Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan trade corridors would link up non-coastal countries with the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2015.

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