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‘ECO’s real challenge is to minimise transaction cost’

Business

July 7, 2020

KARACHI: Transaction should be cost-effective and easy for member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to increase intra-bloc trade from a very low of 7 to 8 percent, a trade body’s representative said on Monday.

Amjad Rafi, chairman of the national committee of ECO-Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Pakistan Chapter) said the real challenge of trade facilitation is to minimise 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.

Rafi was addressing a specialised committee meeting of trade facilitation of ECO-CCI held via video link. The meeting was attended by representatives of the chambers of commerce and industry of member countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Pakistan and ECO secretariat.

The meeting also discussed in details the issues related to regional cooperation, trade cost, ECO visa sticker scheme, intra-ECO investment, exchange of knowledge, tariff rationalisation, implementation of ECO trade agreement, ECO trade fair, ECO exhibition, technological transformation, joint ventures, promotion of barter trade and opening of border gates, and implementation of ECO trade transit agreement.

Sultan Rehman, vice president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry emphasised promotion of international trade and investment among the ECO countries. Intra-ECO trade is very low at 7 to 8 percent, while the Intra-regional trade of other trading blocs is more than 50 percent. For example, in European Union, it is 55 percent and 58 percent in North African countries, he said.

Rehman said expanding of trade volumes requires trade liberalisation, harmonisation of policies, reducing the cost of doing business, financial infrastructure, economic efficiency and institutional capacity building. He urged the member countries to move towards export of high value-added products, medium-to-high technology exports by upgrading and diversifying their industrial structure.