The 1st Meeting of the Heads of ECO Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs) - (Tehran, I.R. Iran, 18-19 January2009)
The 1st Meeting of Heads of ECO Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs) was held on 18-19 January 2009 in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran. It was attended by the Heads of ECO Trade Promotion Organizations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Republic of Turkey and Turkmenistan. The representatives of ECO-CCI, ITC and ECO Secretariat also participated in the meeting.
H.E. Dr. Syed Masoud Mirkazemi, Minister of Commerce of the Islamic Republic of Iran, delivered the inaugural address, H.E. Mr. Mehdi Ghazanfari, Deputy Minister of Commerce and President of Iran Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) made welcome address. Mr. Khurshid Anwar, Secretary General ECO and Mr. Mustafah Sarmadi, Deputy Minister of Commerce for International Affairs also addressed the opening session.
The Heads of Delegations of the Member States highlighted trade promotion policies and programmes of the countries, and the need to meet more often for coordination of activities at the regional level. The TPOs of Member States would provide inputs for a joint strategy to be developed for promotion of intra-regional trade and trade with the rest of the world.
The delegates exchanged ideas on how best their countries could benefit from planned schedules of trade delegations on the regional plane. They agreed to finalize programs keeping in view the regional trade potential for exploiting opportunities to the maximum possible level.
The participants considered possible options for establishing mechanisms aimed at exchange of trade information as well as proposals for capacity building of the Trade Information and Advisory Centers of the Member States. They decided to exchange information, particularly the trade statistics, policies and procedures and promotional activities on a regular basis.
The meeting decided to exchange information on the Member Statesí Calendar of Events as well as facilities/incentives offered for exhibitors during the current year. As for the 3rd ECO Trade Fair to be hosted by Kazakhstan during 2009, it was decided that the TPOs of Member States would select at least ten participants each in the Fair. The meeting agreed to consider Regional Agreement on Organizing Joint Trade Promotional Events after consultations with their relevant Ministries and private sector agencies. The TPOs agreed to consider offering a Composite Stall in one of their important annual event for display of publicity material of ECO affiliated bodies and interested exhibitors. The delegates agreed to firm up their views on the following:-
assistance/incentives for participants of the Member States.
The TPOs of Member States were requested to actively participate in the 1st ECO Printing and Packaging Fair offered by Iran to host in 2009.
The meeting decided enhancing cooperation in carrying out Market and Product Research activities and to examine the proposal on establishing a Network of ECO Institutions of Trade Research to increase cooperation in exchange of ideas, generate research projects, produce publications and create a large pool of indigenous trade specialists.
Pakistan proposed that in addition to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, the Foreign Trade Institute of Pakistan is prepared to offer required assistance to the TPOs in training and research activities. The Islamic Republic of Iran and Republic of Turkey also made similar offers for capacity-building of ECO TPOs.
The Heads of TPOs took note of the desirability of encouraging their private sector and decided on establishing ECO Trade Associations at regional level with a Member State to act as the Coordinating Country for an identified sector.
The meeting discussed the scope of expanding cooperation in trade in services and identified potential services sectors for cooperation among the regional countries. These include ICT, transportation, insurance, building and construction, tourism, health and environmental services.
The meeting considered the launching and the development of the web portal of ECO Trade Promotion Organizations (www.eco-tpo.net) for maintaining data on the exporters and importers active in the region. The meeting recommended that each Member State would initially place references of 200 active and potential exporters and importers on the web portals.
The meeting discussed ways and means for cooperation in organizing Training Courses/Seminars on annual basis for participants from Member States, regional as well as international organizations. The delegate of Pakistan proposed hosting of two events for the participants from the Member TPOs. The events, being planned during the current year, include Seminars on Annual Supply Demand Workshop on specific sectors and Seminar on Impact of Food Crisis on the Economies of the Region.
ITPO was designated as the coordinator of ECO-TPOs Forum for three years. It was recommended that the ECO Sub Committee of Experts (SCOEs) of Customs may also consider Integrated Border Management/Transit Trade issues in its upcoming meeting. In addition, the ECO Secretariat was requested to share all the recommendations of the UNDP Consultant on Trade Facilitation with the TPOs for their views. The TPOs of Member States also consider establishing Focus ECO Cell on the model of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan for future coordination among the TPOs. The meeting recommended that the TPOs should be actively involved in ECO initiatives concerning trade facilitation and private sectorsí cooperation.
The Secretariat in consultation with the authorities of Azerbaijan will finally decide the holding of the 2nd Meeting of Heads of ECO Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs and inform Member States accordingly.