Directorate of Agriculture, Industry & Tourism
Agriculture: Agriculture sector is an important sector for all of the ECO Member States, plays a key role in employment, exports, food security and catalyzing other sectors. ECO region enjoys a wide range of agro-ecological zones favourable for crop and livestock diversification. Agriculture provides employment for over 40 percent of economically active population of the region. Share of Agriculture Sector in total GDP of ECO countries was approximately about 17.9 percent in 2008. Over the past decade, there have been considerable improvements in food production in ECO countries. Geographical location of ECO countries, which is in proximity to major food importing economies like wealthy countries of the Middle East and immense potential for high-quality production raises their competitiveness in these markets.
According to FAO estimates, 925 million people were hungry and malnourished in 2010. Moreover, a child is dying every six seconds because of undernourishment related problems. Taking into consideration the increase in the world population and the need for high quality food, developing agriculture sector and decreasing the number of undernourished people became main concerns of governments of 21st century.
One of the objectives of the ECO, as stipulated in the Traty of Izmir, is to enhance efforts for effective utilization of the agricultural potentials of the region. Quetta Plan of Action and the Istanbul Declaration, the long term perspectives of ECO also give due importance to ECO agricultural cooperation. In line with these guidelines, ECO Secretariat has initiated several activities in this field and has mainly focused on food security and agricultural development issues.
A key feature of food security in ECO member states is the diversity of agro-climatic zones combined with differing sets of priorities. There is no single denominator that can be applied uniformly to member countries. While there is no member that is basically insecure, each country continues to have pockets of periodic, annual insecurities mostly for climatic reasons such as drought and/or flooding and failures of critical infrastructure.
The existing global crises range from financial and economic crisis to scarcity of food, drought, climate change and poverty and hunger, and require stronger cooperation and collective global action. No country has enough sources to confront these challenges and therefore there is a strong need to find global and regional solutions to overcome the existing problems especially in the field of agriculture as it has a deep impact on the livelihoods of people. ECO, as a regional organization, has accorded top priority to food security and agricultural development in the region and formulated, in cooperation with FAO, ECO Regional Programme for Food Security (RPFS).
ECO Secretariat continues its efforts to establish an institutional basis for long term cooperation with Member Countries, International Organizations and Financial Institutions to enhance implementation of regional/national projects under RPFS to achieve sustainable agricultural development in the region.
During the 4th ECO Ministerial Meeting critical decisions for the development of the ECO cooperation in the field of agriculture were taken. The 19th Council of Ministers (COM) approved the establishment of various ECO affiliated bodies and institutions in the field of Agriculture to facilitate the implementation of the ECO Regional Programme for Food Security (RPFS).
ECO Secretariat is also in contact with FAO, IDB and other possible donors for ensuring financial assistance to other regional components of the RPFS. In this context, ECOSA International Seed Trade Conferences are being organized with financial support of FAO, ICARDA, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and TURKTOB.
Several substantial developments took place in the area of agriculture since the 4th Ministerial Meeting i.e. the approval of the FAO-ECO Project on Seed Sector Development in the ECO Region within the Scope of FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme (FTTP), resolutions of the 19th ECO COM on the establishment of ECO Veterinary Commission (ECO-VECO) in Tehran, ECO Regional Coordination Center (RCC) for implementation of the ECO Regional Programme for Food Security (RPFS) in Ankara, ECO Meteorological Calibration Center (ECO-MCC) in Ankara and ECO Center for the Efficient Utilization of Water in Islamabad etc.
Industry sector is of high importance for the economies of ECO Member States. ECO Member States have common interests and problems in different areas of Industry in the region. Increasing productivity and enhancing the capacity in relevant institutions, developing economic infrastructures, and promoting industrial trade are amongst the problems faced by ECO Member States within their industrial sectors. In order to solve these problems, ECO Member States need to establish an institutional working relationship at national as well as regional and international levels.
The combined GDP of the ECO countries amounted to US$ 1345 billion in 2009. This made up about 2.3% of the world GDP whereas combined share of industry sector to total value added except Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is more than 25 percent.
During three Ministerial Meetings on Industry the framework of regional cooperation and prioritized ECO activities in field of industry are determined as under:
Based on ECO Regional Strategy on Industrial Cooperation closer regional integration has been considered through institutionalizing necessary mechanisms to create intra-regional synergy in the field of industry by strengthening private-public partnership and providing hospitable investment environment through pragmatic policy initiatives for local private investments and efficiency-seeking Foreign Direct Investment.
ECO has finalized the establishment of Regional Institute for Standardization, Conformity Assessment, Accreditation and Metrology (RISCAM) as a new affiliated body which will try to facilitate the development and implementation of proper technical infrastructures for Standardization and will have a vital role in protecting the interests of ECO Member States in the global markets. Cooperation Strategy for Standardization and related fields indicates the objectives, policies, activities and mechanism to lead the cooperation and has drawn the road map for achievement of the Regional goals in this regard.
The Plan of Action on Entrepreneurship and Small & Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) Development has assigned a Steering Committee to implement the goals on a regional, entrepreneurial notion, involvement of private sector, expansion of economic interactions, promotion of foreign direct investment and intra regional trade.
ECO cooperation in the field of privatization has its own mandates and Plan of Action which consider privatization as an essential part of economic policy reforms in the ECO member countries and a major shift in economic strategies towards free-market economies, an increased emphasis on economic efficiency, private sector development, competition and the need for integration with global economy and increasing competitiveness.
Establishment of Technology Transfer Centre based on the Plan of Action is under progress. A website of ETT had already been launched and four project proposals pertaining to the establishment of the ETT Center are considered. Facilitating, generating and strengthening local technologies and adaptation of imported technologies based on local and regional needs are among the main objectives.
The Plan of Action on Industrial Property Rights calls on Member States and their concerned institutions to come up with concrete project proposals for their implementation and recalling for promoting awareness on Branding of Products and Trade Marks as well as on Intellectual Property Rights. Protection of Patents, Industrial Designs, Topographies, Integrated Circuits and Geographical Indications are of those areas which propose related technical mechanisms.
Establishment of ECO Nanotechnology Network (ECO-NAN) highlighted goals like measures, objective and functions, basic activities and plans. Prompting nanotechnology, developing the ability of the members, basic knowledge of people, prompting the trading co-operation amongst Member States and strengthening the infrastructure of high-tech enterprises are the objectives of this area of cooperation.
Establishment of ECO Representative Office for the Development of Science & New Technologies in Almaty is the latest initiative for ECO in field of Industrial Cooperation that will be linked with relevant bodies like Scientific Foundation, Technology Transfer Center and Nanotechnology Network.
Tourism has received due attention by the ECO Member States as an important source of income contributing to the development of services industries in Member States, enhancing regional and global understanding, cultural awareness and as a sector for economic cooperation. ECO inhabited by more than 410 million people, in an area of over 7 million sq. km in abundant in historical, cultural and natural resources which offer great potential in expanding the regional cooperation in the field of tourism as an huge and valuable industry.
The ECO Plan of Action on Tourism has drawn the aims and programs for activities and cooperation in this area. These are as follows:
Long term measures/programmes
The establishment of ECO Tourism Promotion Fund has been approved by 18th Council of Ministers (March 2009) to support the tourism cooperation in the region and mandated that a Fund will be utilized to finance projects on utilization of Member States tourism industries objectives in general and to familiarize potential tourists from all over the world with common cultural and historical heritage of ECO region in particular.
The first ECO Tourist Guidebook consisting of useful information about 10 ECO Member States is published in January 2011 in collaboration with ECO Cultural Institute (ECI) and Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts & Tourism Organization (ICHTO)
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