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Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar has said that Pakistan’s geo-strategic location offers potential to turn the country into a hub of regional trade and connectivity. He stated that CPEC provides an immense opportunity for strengthening regional integration and connectivity.
The Minister was addressing a seminar on ‘ECO Achievements and Challenges’ at PPMI Complex, Islamabad on Friday. Secretary General, ECO, Dr. Hadi Soleimanpour was the guest of honour on the occasion which was also attended by Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan and senior officials of the ministry.
Makhdum Khusro expressed optimism that peace in Afghanistan will lead to harnessing the true potential of ECO adding that one of the shared objectives of the regional bloc is political stability in Afghanistan. He said that Pakistan is fully committed to ECO and hoped that it will achieve its objectives as envisioned in its charter. ‘We believe that development of transport and communication infrastructure, facilitation of trade and investment, effective use of the region’s vast energy reservoirs are important sectoral priorities of the ECO for development and growth in the region’, said the Minister.
Makhdum Khusro noted that share of ECO region’s trade in the global trade is almost 2 percent as against ECO region’s population of 6.2 percent in the world population. The Minister suggested that ECO Bank should build partnerships with Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other multilateral organizations for financing regional infrastructure projects and realizing ECO Trade Agreement that have the potential to expand inter-regional and intra-regional trade and cooperation within the ECO framework to the benefit of regional economies. The Minister highlighted that one of the major pillars of the 12th five year plan is to enhance trade and connectivity with regional economies.
The Minister said that Pakistan has been at the forefront of promoting objectives of regional blocs. Referring to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Minister noted that the regional bloc has become hostage due to belligerent attitude of India.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Hadi Soleimanpour said there is a need to further expand trade and investment within the ECO region for mutual benefit of all member countries.