Second ECO Regional Investment Conference
(April 18-19, 2004, Kabul, Afghanistan)
ECO Secretariat, Tehran
The Second ECO Regional Trade and Investment Conference, hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, was held in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 18-19 April 2004. The delegations of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Republic of Tajikistan and Republic of Turkey along with the representatives of ECO Secretariat participated in the Conference. Representatives from UN agencies/international organizations based in Kabul and approximately 600 participants from private and public sectors and Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) also attended the said Conference.
The opening session of the Conference was attended by the President of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, members of the Afghan Cabinet, high ranking dignitaries and diplomats based in Kabul.
The Conference assumed greater significance because it was a first-ever international conference held in Afghanistan in the last two decades and was also first ever ECO event organized in Afghanistan. 7th General Assembly Meeting of ECO-Chambers of Commerce & Industry and Financial Experts Meeting for Establishment and Operation of ECO Special Fund for Reconstruction Projects in Afghanistan were also held in Kabul on 20th and 21st April 2004 respectively. The organization of three events in Afghanistan reflects abiding commitment of ECO with its member country.
Inaugurating the Conference, Mr. Hamid Karzai, President of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan called upon the ECO member states to follow the path of regional integration which was symbolized by the historical Silk Road. He briefed the participants on the incentives being offered by his country to attract foreign investment in Afghanistan and to promote trade with other countries. He pointed out that the recently held Berlin Conference had pledged US$ 8.2 billion worth of economic assistance to Afghanistan in the next three years. While highlighting on the achievements in the legal and institutional framework, he hoped that Afghanistan would soon be a country with progressive and up to date economic regulation in the region.
In his statement, Mr. Askhat Orazbay, Secretary General ECO called upon the ECO member states to develop a regional mechanism for promoting investment and intra-regional trade in the member states particularly in Afghanistan. He assured full cooperation and contribution of the ECO Secretariat for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The Conference was also addressed by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Syed Mustafa Kazemi, Minister of Commerce and Dr. Ashraf Ghani, Minister of Finance.
The Conference agreed that sustained and intensified efforts were needed within the framework of ECO to implement economic, legal and administrative reforms. It was agreed that the prospects for attracting and sustaining investment could be significantly improved by regional cooperation through harmonization of investment policies backed by high level commitment to the key principles and best practices for successful investment policies.
During the conference the ECO member countries agreed to provide training facilities to the Afghan officials dealing with trade and commerce issues as well as to the small scale trade enterprises. It was further agreed to provide technical and financial support to Afghanistan to conduct market surveys on commodities and manufactured goods of Afghanistan and to introduce them in other ECO member countries.
A Trade and Investment Exhibition was also held on the sidelines of the conference, which was inaugurated by Syed Mustafa Kazemi, Minister of Commerce of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan and Askat Orazbay, Secretary General of ECO.