ECO Trade and Investment Conference
Kabul, 9-10 November 2005
ECO Secretariat, Tehran, November 14, 2005
The ECO Trade & Investment Conference was held in Kabul on 9-10 November 2005. The Ministry of Commerce of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) and the ECO-Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECO-CCI) were the hosts of the said Conference. The representatives of ECO member states i.e. Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey as well as international organizations/institutions such as UNCTAD, UNDP, ADB, World Bank, UNIDO, and TICA attended the Conference. The Conference was inaugurated by Mr. Hedayat Amin Arsala, Senior Advisor to the President and Minister of Commerce of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Mr. Askhat Orazbay, the Secretary General of ECO.
In order to enhance the turnout of this Conference and further strengthen ECO member states’ cooperation on Private Sector Promotion in Afghanistan and Regional Development, on the sidelines of this Conference a number of meetings/activities were also organized simultaneously i.e, “Seminar on ECO’s Participation in the Reconstruction of Afghanistan”, “4th ECO High Level Expert Group Meeting on Trade, Investment, and Other Related Matters”, “10th Executive Committee Meeting of ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECO-CCI)”, “ECO-CCI Trade Fair”.
Particularly, the 4th HLEG meeting among other things discussed/considered the Action Plan for early implementation of ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), preparation of Optional Protocol on Fast Track Approach to ECOTA, ECO Trade and Investment Development Strategy and Private Sector Development in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Regional Development. In addition, it was highlighted that ECO being an intergovernmental and representing genuine desires of the people and the political wills of the member states might act as a clearing house or a coordinating body for regional projects and programmes contingent upon its capacity. On the other hand, the 10th Executive Committee Meeting of ECO-CCI discussed new mechanisms and modalities for better interaction between member chambers, business communities of ECO region. The said Committee decided to finalize the Action Plan of ECO-CCI, which would also envisage the ECO Vision for 2015 and submit for the final consideration of the 16th ECO Regional Planning Council meeting proposed to be held in Tehran on the first quarter of 2006. The Seminar on ECO’s Participation in the Reconstruction of Afghanistan concluded with a set of recommendations which inter-alia included endorsement of ECO decision to finance construction of Deh Mazang Public Park in Kabul, a call for increased pledges to the ECO Special Fund for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and assistance to Afghan Government in capacity and institution building process.
On the sidelines of the Conference, ECO-CCI Trade Fair/Exhibition was also organized at the Loya Jirga Site at Kabul Polytechnic University from 9 to 12 November 2005. This exhibition gave the opportunity for around 200 companies from 23 countries to feature their products/goods.
Generally, this Conference with it’s featured side events/meetings was a major step to promote trade and investment among the ECO member states especially in Afghanistan and provide business-to-business interaction and networking opportunities for the private sectors of the region. It has been a great opportunity for the representatives of the region and international community to witness at first hand the progress that Afghanistan have made in it’s reconstruction process, enabling environment and capacity to hold such Conferences within ECO’s programme of regional integration as well as global interests.