By Nida Raja

Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO)

One of the famous proverbs is that unity is strength which is applied from a micro to macro level. Human beings play an important role in making the unattainable to achievable. This thought when is applied to build up the minds of people it creates a constructive result. This is what has been thought of by the countries in the region of Asia as they have realised the importance. In order to give their this consideration a practical shape they got their influence from European union and other organizations like that and evolved a new organization namely ECONOMIC COOPERATION ORGANIZATION(ECO). This organization was established in 1985 by the combine efforts of Iran, Pakistan and turkey. It is an intergovernmental regional organization whose sole idea was to promote economic, cultural and technical cooperation. Europe has made this step in forming an organization of their own in 1993 upon the foundations of European communities. To know about the working of this organization so far it has faced a lot of challenges which include lack of infrastructure and institutions in the member countries. But by making use of regionally available resources development in these sectors are in progress. Activities of ECO are conducted under secretary general and his deputies who consider and evolve programmes of mutual benefits in the field of:

  • Transport and telecommunication.
  • Trade and investment.
  • Energy, minerals and environment.
  • Agriculture industry and tourism.
  • Human resources and sustainable development.
  • Project and economic research and statistics.

Considering such goals and holding an important member position of this organization Pakistan can and is performing much important work. Its regional specific role can be said to have begun when it became a member of SEATO, CENTO and RCD. And like other regional organizations of the world it has vehemently strived to achieve the success in the mutually agreed areas of cooperation. Pakistan is situated at such a geographical location that it has significant role to do regarding the betterment of ECO. Out of 10 member states, 7 are landlocked; Pakistan is the only country that provides a natural route to sea for 6 of these countries. ECO is striving for alleviating poverty, improving agricultural and industrial potential along with environmental control and drug control and many more. If we take a glance at Pakistan’s situation in this respect it can be seen that Pakistan is facing these entire nuisance which is continuously ameliorating its economy as well as its society. But be in this thought that we can’t do anything would be irrelevant being such a strong country. And so with the help of other member countries Pakistan is fighting with all these troubles.

Being holding an important strategic position Pakistan in this region of rich resources is also striving for the betterment of this organization by formally participating in the growth of the sectors ECO is strived for. Pakistan has been playing a contributory role in the institutionalisation of ECO. ECO is situated strategically in the heart of euro-Asian land mass. Pakistan geographical location makes it both at the crossroads of interaction for very different regions around the Asia and the very heart of intra-regional linkages. And it is getting new international importance and stature through its outward-looking approach. Now sector wise if we have a glance over the persistent role of Pakistan in this respect it will go in preference hierarchy. Because by looking at sector’s functioning we will have an idea about what role our homeland is playing in the betterment of ECO. The sector wise development can be seen as follows and among them first is the telecommunication which has received the top right of way to be discussed.

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As a developing nation all the institutions were developing gradually but if we have a glance at telecommunication sector it was ruled by monopoly by one of the sector namely department of telephone and telegraph (t&t). But recently this market has flourished by dismantling the monopoly state of affair. By 2005 a number of important milestones have been achieved in terms of market liberalization. Teledensity has increased from a low rate of 2.5% in 1995 to 10% in 2005 with more growth potential. Ptcl was established in December 1990 when this t&t department was converted into corporation which provide services from 3 to 4 million people throughout Pakistan.

However the present condition of infrastructure poses greater challenges in providing the communication services to the masses. Because of this still broadband services are costly but the population of the country has adopted means to meet some of their requirements despite facing such hardships. Today if we have a look around us so we can say that even in the far away and backward areas of the country everyone almost have the access to this means of communication. This has created a milestone and an achievement in the development process.

Food which is the basic necessity of every living being whether human or animal and the country possessed with self sufficiency in food has a greater advantage to breathe in this world. Pakistan is one of those blessed countries which are self sufficient in food and it is also capable to export what has been grown by its enormous fertile land. Among its major crops are cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, maize, fruits, grains etc. besides using the typical and old methods of farming new innovations have been introduced in the form of biotechnology given by the institute of research and development in agriculture. New innovations are introduced time after time because of the increasing population in the country and to meet their food requirement through old techniques is not achievable. This biotechnology has great potential for improvement in crop production, food production and poverty reduction. This started off in Pakistan in 1985 and currently there are 29 biotech institutes.

Most of the research is being conducted on rice and cotton because these are among top 5 crops of Pakistan. In that biotic and abiotic resistant genes have been incorporated into some of the plants. The agriculture sector being the lynchpin of the Pakistan’s economy continues to be the single largest sector and a dominant driving force for growth and development of the national economy of Pakistan. This sector accounts for 24% of the GDP and became a source of employment for 48.8% of the country. This sector contributes to the growth of industrial sector as well by providing raw material. It also contributes up to 68% of the exports of the nation. This sector has grown at a rate of 4.5% per annum during the late 1990’s which further has increased to 11.7%. This sector has great potential and great role in not only the development of the country but also the region where it is situated.

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Pakistan stands at forty first in the world and fifty fifth in factory output. The industrial sector of Pakistan accounts for 24% of the GDP among which the textile industry ranks at the top and then the hierarchy moves on. This sector provides almost 40% of the employment to the labour force. The country is privatizing most of its industries in a view to improve their efficiency and increase the aggregate output. Not only in textile industry Pakistan is also emerging in automobile industry which offers a big business and investment opportunities. And this sector’s potential can be seen from its contribution to GDP which amounts to 2.8% in 2005 and is expected to rise up to 5.6% in the coming years.

Then if we see the IT industry it is remarkably escalating since last three years. A marked increase in software export figures are an indication of this booming sector in Pakistan. The estimated size has increased up to $2.8 billion. In 2007 Pakistan was featured for the first time in the global services location index by A.T.Kearny and was ranked 30th best location which has grown to 20th.

The services sector can not be forgotten as far as Pakistan is concerned. This sector has contributed 53.3% of GDP. In order to improve this sector more Pakistan is promoting the modern services sector by providing the incentives of tax holidays. The government is acutely conscious of immense job opportunities in the service sector and has launched privatization of telecommunications, utilities and banking despite union unrest.

Service SectorComing up to minerals then we can see that Pakistan is a land endowed with enormous resources and has become a promising area for the exploration of minerals. Based on the given information it is demonstrated at almost area up to 6, 00,000 km have the potential of metallic and non-metallic deposits. Exploration on part of minerals other than oil, gas etc is the duty of provincial governments and so the provincial governments and multinational mining companies have shown ample occurrences of sizeable deposits. Recent discoveries of thick oxidized zone underlain by sulphide zones in the shield area of Punjab province, covered by tick alluvial cover has open new vistas for metallic minerals exploration. Pakistan has large base for industrial minerals. Currently 52 minerals are under exploitation although on small scale. The current contribution of this sector in GDP is 0.5% and is likely to increase further.

Pakistan has taken a number of steps regarding the liberalization of trade regime in the context of both unilaterally and commitments made to the WTO. In May 2001, Pakistan’s 35 year old price support system was dismantled under the growing international stress. This was followed by the elimination of non-tariff barriers on several items. In order to ensure compliance with WTO agreement on trade-related intellectual property right(TRIPS) commitments Pakistan amended its legislation in 1997 and in 200 it passed a new legislation on patents, trademarks and copyrights. Border protection which now is confined to tariffs has been reduced dramatically through unilateral cuts.

However, export subsidies remain in different forms, including direct financial support, export finance, and tax breaks in export-processing zones. Import prohibitions have also been maintained on goods from particular origins (e.g. Israel, India). Following the dismantling of import prohibitions on textiles and clothing protection is now largely focused on the automotive sector, which registered effective rates of protection exceeding 5000%.

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Pakistan’s suggestions for the improving the position of developing nations in the global economy include tightening the restrictions on anti-dumping rules often applied by developed countries for protectionist purposes (see Textile section below), special market access for developing country exports, allowing developing countries flexibility in retaining export subsidies for the purpose of industrialization and diversification, and loosening the intellectual property commitments under the Doha Round. In previous proposals Pakistan has advocated for the right of developing countries to consider non-trade factors such as food security and employment when creating domestic agricultural policy. In addition, Pakistan has submitted a detailed proposal to modify the dispute settlement rules, with most provisions geared toward improving developing countries’ access to the dispute settlement process and reducing the dispute settlement panel’s ability to enforce social regulations such as environmental standards.

The indicators of the economy which represents what an economy is like and how does it functions has been discussed by scratching out the role of Pakistan. This discussion has also evolved the geographical importance of Pakistan. And not only geographical importance but also political importance can also be derived. Pakistan has sea port which connects it with the rest of the world and it has enough location that its habitants can live on and derive resources as a mean and instrument of life as some means and instruments are required by human beings to live in this world which ALLAH has promised and bestowed with and our homeland is not an exception from this. These features and its capacity are not only personal to its members only but also significant for regional neighbours as well. This significance has made it a vital member in the organizations of which it is a member. One of those as we have mentioned is ECO. ECO currently is engaged in energy crisis resolution and meetings are being held in Tehran. And by resolving this problem all the members will facilitated by it specially Pakistan. Because besides the potentiality of the country in many a sectors still they are not operating at an efficient level which is required according to the current need of the scenario. Pakistan’s potential in telecommunication, agriculture, food, industry, trade and many other sectors made it significant as it can play its role for the betterment of rest of the member nations by providing them with assistance financially and technologically both.

And this can be done by the intra-country educational exchanges and building the human capital and ensure free mobility of this capital and by facilitating the masses without much efforts on their part. The other members can also perform this same function so that this organization fulfils its goals for what it has been established for. Only in this way the development of all these nations is possible and then it will trickle down to rest of the world and ensure a developed global village.


Social text created by Tariq Mustafa

Journal of AOAC international by Yusuf zafar

Global trade negotiations, centre for international development at Harvard University.

Nida Raja is doing her M Phil in economics from International Islamic University Islamabad. She is a frequent writer for

Nida Raja

Opinion Maker.