Tuesday June 18, 2024

PM Imran inaugurates 14th ECO Summit today

By Mariana Baabar
March 04, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the 14th Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Summit today (March 4) in Pakistan’s capacity as the chair as he had headed the 13th summit last year. The summit will be held virtually.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will chair the 14th Summit, whose theme is “Regional Economic Cooperation in the Aftermath of COVID-19”.

“Pakistan has been actively contributing towards advancement of the goals and objectives of ECO, including regional economic integration”, said the Foreign Office while announcing the summit.

Khan will share Pakistan’s perspective on COVID-19 challenges, while outlining his vision for regional economic development in line with ECO’s founding principles of promotion of trade and connectivity.

Pakistan is one of the founding members of ECO, in addition to Iran and Turkey. The Organisation was formed in 1985 from the erstwhile Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD). Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan later joined as members of ECO. As a founding member, Pakistan remains strongly committed to ECO which aims at promotion of effective regional cooperation, with focus on communications, trade, culture and connectivity.

“The Summit is the highest platform in the 10-member ECO. The Summit meetings entail exchange of views on regional and global issues of interest to the ECO region and review of the progress in implementation of ECO programmes and projects”, said the Foreign Office.

Earlier at the Foreign Office, as part of government’s economic outreach initiative, the fifth virtual meeting on Economic Diplomacy was held. The meeting, chaired by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, focused on Europe. Pakistan’s envoys to France, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania and Russia participated in the meeting.

“Highlighting the growing importance of geo-economics in international politics, the foreign minister underscored ‘Economic Diplomacy’ as an essential part of modern diplomatic practice. He stated that, in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the missions abroad were at the forefront of safeguarding and advancing Pakistan’s economic interest”, said the statement.

They played an important role in successful implementation of a range of measures including the prime minister’s ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for developing countries, prime minister’s Economic Outreach Initiative (EOI), and the Roshan Digital Account.

Foreign Minister Qureshi encouraged envoys to cultivate and broaden mutually beneficial trade and economic partnerships with European countries, focusing on key goals of trade promotion, financial inflows, investments, remittances, tourism and technology transfer.

Underscoring the importance of consolidating and expanding Pakistan’s economic outreach with Europe, the foreign minister stressed the need to diversify exports to the EU countries to fully utilise the benefits under the GSP Plus status. He further emphasised the need to constructively engage with parliamentarians in Europe and EU Parliament with a view to maximising avenues for economic outreach and collaboration.

The foreign minister appreciated the increased inflow of investment from Europe into Pakistan and urged the missions to proactively engage with their interlocutors to showcase the investment potential of the country. Highlighting the government’s continued efforts in this regard, the foreign minister highlighted Pakistan’s impressive improvement in Ease of Doing Business ranking. Pakistan had also secured 6th place among world’s top 10 business climate improvers.

Foreign Minister Qureshi instructed the envoys to identify and address bottlenecks that hinder expansion of economic collaboration with host countries. The envoys were also asked to identify sectors where Pakistan could enhance its economic footprint in Europe.

During the virtual meeting, the Pakistani envoys apprised the foreign minister of their activities and programmes in economic and commercial domains. They briefed about measures to strengthen existing linkages and forging new ones for bolstering Pakistan’s economic imprint in Europe.

In keeping with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision, Foreign Minister Qureshi has consistently accentuated promotion of economic diplomacy and increased economic cooperation with partner countries. Regular virtual meetings and interactions on Economic Diplomacy with Pakistani envoys in key capitals are part of these efforts.