Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for intensified collaboration to exploit enormous potential of ECO to turn the region into a citadel of peace, progress and prosperity.
Addressing the 13th ECO Summit 2017 in Islamabad on Wednesday after assuming its chairmanship, he said Islamabad Declaration would reflect the consensus and resolve of ECO member states to collectively take on the contemporary economic challenges.
The Prime Minister called for sustained focus on key areas identified for cooperation in the Islamabad Declaration including trade, transport and energy which could lead to a transformative change across the region.
PM Nawaz Sharif pointed out that meaningful trade in the region cannot take place without better cooperation on transport, infrastructure and connectivity among the member states.
He said time has come for ECO to make momentous advances for practical realization of the theme of the summit "Connectivity for Regional Prosperity". He said theme of the summit assumes special relevance as more countries of the region are already making huge investment in connectivity projects. Central Asia has emerged as Trans-Eurasia land bridge and oil and gas pipelines are linking our markets with the rest of the world.
The Prime Minister said no other project better symbolizes Pakistan's conception of win-win cooperation through connectivity than China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. It is now being recognized as a catalyst for energy, infrastructure, transport, connectivity and trade in the whole of South and Central Asia.
The Prime Minister said the ECO region is a vast geographical expanse and constitutes 16% of the world population. He regretted that trade within the ECO region is a small fraction of our trade with the rest of the world.