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Trade Facilitation Committee Meeting of ECO CCI

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Trade Facilitation Committee Meeting of  ECO CCI
November 19, 2011 Karachi- I R Pakistan
The Third meeting of the Trade Facilitation Committee of the ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hosted by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, (FPCCI) was held on November 19, 2011, in Karachi, I. R. Pakistan. The delegates of the Trade Facilitation Committee from Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Republic of Turkey, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Republic of Tajikistan, as well as a delegate from the ECO Secretariat participated in the meeting.
 Mr. Amjad Rafi , Chairman of Trade Facilitation Committee delivered his statement. Stating that the reference material that will be used is the report on Trade Facilitation prepared by Pakistan originally approved in Ankara in the 14th Executive Committee Meeting of ECO CCI in June 2010. He said that this report highlighted the following key areas of trade facilitation: ECOTA, Visa simplification, and Fairs and exhibitions. He mentioned the recommendations that were provided in this report for each of the above areas, and enquired the ECO CCI and ECO Secretariat to inform the participants of the meeting regarding the progress made in this respect.
Dr. Mohammed Reza Karbasi, Secretary General, ECO CCI presented the action report on the decisions contained in the 2nd Trade Facilitation Committee Meeting Report. He mentioned that the ECO CCI is trying to create common understanding among the chambers of commerce of ECO member countries and their respective countries’ Trade Facilitation related organizations. However, due to the fact that signing of agreements does not guarantee their implementation; therefore, the ECO CCI has made correspondence with the ECO Secretariat to take an active part in monitoring the developments achieved in the fields of ECOTA, Agreement on Simplification of Visa Procedures among ECO Countries and ETDB within a multitude of correspondence and communications. He made certain recommendations relating to the implementation of ECOTA, ETDB and visa issuance to transit drivers of the member countries.
The members of the Trade Facilitation Committee discussed ways and means of regular organization of ECO Annual Trade Exhibitions. It was decided that in view of the fact that Kazakhstan was unable to host the ECO Trade Exhibition, Iran was in the process of finalizing details regarding its ability to hold the ECO Exhibition (tentatively in September 2012). The Chairman thanked Iran for taking this initiative, and assured him of all possible help from Pakistan in this regard.
The Meeting stressed the importance of circulating information on ECO Trade Fairs as well as on the international trade fairs to be held in any Member Country at least 3 months prior to the fair & exhibition. The Meeting further took note of the proposal made by TOBB on operating the ECO CCI web site, which has been established and functionalized under the Presidency of TOBB, in line with the directions of the ECO CCI Secretariat. It also appreciated the proposal made by TOBB in taking initiative on customs/border gates modernization.
The participants deliberated the optimal holding of the ECO Business Forum. It was stated that over the past four years, there has been no meeting of the ECO Business Forum.
The Secretary General of the ECO CCI stated that the proposal by Afghanistan to host the Business Forum and buyers / sellers meetings in Kabul next year would be followed up with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce. ECO Secretariat will have to provide financial support to Afghanistan in order for it to host these events.
Capacity building in the Chambers of Commerce of Central Asian countries as an approach for development of private sector activities was discussed.
The Chairman stated that as founding members, the greater responsibility lay with Turkey, Iran and Pakistan to help the ECO chambers with capacity building. He invited written recommendations from the CARs regarding their capacity building needs.
The delegate from Iran said that Iran was holding an International Branding Conference in December 2011 which CARs were especially encouraged to participate in. The host country will provide local hospitality to two delegates from each ECO Member Chambers.  
The Meeting appreciated the activities carried out by TOBB in cooperation with IDB in capacity building of ECO Member Chambers and called the ECO CCI Secretariat to hold similar capacity building programs.
Iran and Pakistan's offer for provision of free exhibition area to each others firm in its international fairs and exhibitions on a reciprocal basis was discussed. It was stated that the details regarding this would be worked out in the near future, and all ECO countries must explore the possibility of giving free/concessional space in their exhibitions to ECO member states.
The participants suggested that there appeared to be a problem in coordinating dates and venues, so perhaps all ECO events (such as ECO Business Forum, ECO Exhibition, etc) should be held in one convenient place at a time so that all member countries could effectively participate.
The ECO Trade and Development Bank’s collaboration with Pakistan was acknowledged and similar measures were encouraged
It was decided that the date and venue of the 4th Meeting of Trade Facilitation Committee of ECO CCI would be decided on the sidelines of the next EC Meeting.
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