EghtesadOnline: Trade between the Economic Cooperation Organization members currently stands at $60 billion per annum, which is estimated to double and reach $120 billion by 2025.
The announcement was made by ECO Secretary-General Hadi Soleymanpour at the opening of ECO’s 29th Meeting of the Regional Planning Council in Tehran on Monday.
Delegates from all member states are taking part in the event, which will run for four days and conclude on Dec. 20, Financial Tribune reported.
“Trade between ECO members accounts for 7.7% of their overall international trade. RPC is tasked with surveying ways in which this figure could be increased. Measures like reducing tariffs, increasing reciprocal investments, facilitating cooperation between private sectors of the member states and connecting our markets are among measures that need to be taken,” Soleymanpour was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The official added that in the RPC meeting, different issues are being surveyed, including trade, transportation, tourism, industry, energy, sustainable development and economic growth in the ECO region.
The RPC meeting is one of the most important decision-making bodies of ECO, as it is the planning arm of the Council of Ministers and entrusted with the task of discussing and recommending the future activities. In so doing, RPC also reviews the past programs and evaluates their success as well as shortcomings, ECO writes on its website.
The Economic Cooperation Organization, founded in 1985 in Tehran by Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, is the second largest regional organization after the European Union in terms of geography (close to 8 million square meters) and population (over 463 million).
"The foreign trade of ECO member states currently stands at more than $845 billion per year," Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri, the head of ECO Cultural Institute, told Financial Tribune last year.
ECO member states include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Northern Cyprus acts as an observer state.
ECO’s secretariat and cultural institute are located in Iran, its economic bureau is in Turkey and its scientific office is in Pakistan.
ECO members’ main exports consist of oil and gas, textile, steel, minerals, chemical products and grains, while their imports include energy, vehicles and machinery.
Mazaheri noted that Iran, after Turkey, has the biggest foreign trade turnover in terms of weight and value among the member countries.
Latest statistics released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show Iran recorded a non-oil trade surplus of $1.94 billion in the eight months ending Nov. 21.
Exports, excluding crude oil, mazut, kerosene and suitcase trade, hit 75.27 million tons worth $31.49 billion during the period, indicating a 5% decrease in weight and a 12.96% increase in value year-on-year.
Imports amounted to 21.49 million tons worth $29.54 billion, down by more than 12.58% in weight and 14.04% in value over last year’s similar period.
All in all, Iran’s non-oil foreign trade during the eight months of the current fiscal year (March 21-Nov. 21) stood at $61.04 billion, indicating a 0.23% increase compared with last year’s corresponding period. The country saw a record surplus of $1.94 million.