Turkish PM: Free trade zone to increase trade turnover between ECO countries by eight times

Turkish PM: Free trade zone to increase trade turnover between ECO countries by eight times

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 16 / Trend S. Aliyev /

Turkey hopes that the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) will strengthen its power and influence and become an organization envisaging a high potential for cooperation of the member-states, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the ECO summit today.

He said that during the last 20 years, very important economic and political changes have occurred on the geographical arena, covered by ECO.

"The global financial crisis has demonstrated once again that the regional countries must work together and cooperate in economic, energy and transport sectors," he said. "The countries must work together to maximally avoid the consequences of the crisis."

Turkey seeks to enhance the cooperation between the ECO countries in the above-mentioned areas. ECO countries have set a goal of development within the organization until 2015.

"In this regard, hosting the XII ECO Summit is very important to define the objectives and principles of this development and ways of its achievement," he added.

Erdogan said that total GDP of the member-states (10 countries) reaches $ 1.7 trillion, which equals to 2.4 percent of the total GDP of the world countries.

"This is a very modest figure. The income per capita hits $4,000. The total turnover of ECO countries hit $768 billion or 2 percent of total world trade turnover" Erdogan said, noting that these figures do not indicate the economic potential of the ECO countries.

He added that removing all barriers before trade among the ECO countries and abolishing or simplifying some tax and customs duties can be a good opportunity for the development of trade between the member-states.

"ECO countries have set a goal of creating a free trade zone by 2015," he said. However, even a small part of this project has not been fulfilled yet. After creating a free economic zone, trade turnover between ECO countries will increase by eight times."

Turkey has also invited all ECO member-states to join the ECO ECOBANK.

"It is necessary to stimulate joint and bilateral investments and cooperation in the field of agriculture to develop the economies of the ECO countries," he said. "With this purpose, Antalya will host a conference of agriculture ministers of ECO member-states on November 13-16."

He said that the sphere of transport plays a very important role in the economic development of all countries. It is necessary to restore the historic "Silk Road" to develop the ECO countries, and in this regard, there is a great responsibility lying on the organization.

"The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is a very important project to restore the Silk Road," Erdogan said, adding that direct communication between Asia and Europe will be established due to this project.

The project will stimulate the development of the region and strengthen the cooperation between Asia and Europe, he said.

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