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15th Economic Cooperation Organization Summit to convene

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15th Economic Cooperation Organization Summit to convene

Photo: Anadolu Agency

Heads of state from the ten Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) countries will meet in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan today for the 15th ECO summit.

ECO, composed of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is a key economic bloc in the Central Asian region. Today’s summit will see Turkish President Recep Erdogan hand over ECO presidency to Turkmenistan, as well as a strategic progress check on the bloc’s ECO Vision 2025.

Intra-regional trade is one of the biggest barriers to growth for the group. ECO Vision 2025 aims to increase intra-organizational trade, though regional infrastructure is still insufficient to support the movement of goods and digital connectivity for banking and services. 

Furthermore, agreements like the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which does not include ECO members, have placed additional pressure on the bloc as the institutionalized RCEP will likely reduce imports from non-members such as the ECO nations. Originally proposed during the 13th ECO summit, expect the group to re-visit ECO’s integration with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor—and by extension the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative—to meet the infrastructure demand necessary to achieve intra-regional trade goals.

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