Economic Cooperation Organization
Motto: "Sustainable socioeconomic development for the people of the region"
Member states of the ECO
|7,937,197 km2 (3,064,569 sq mi) (6th)|
• Water (%)
• 2021 estimate
|66/km2 (170.9/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2018 estimate|
|US$6.3 trillion (4th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2018 estimate|
|US$1.8 trillion (10th)|
• Per capita
|Time zone||UTC+2 to +5|
The Economic Cooperation Organization or ECO is an Asian political and economic intergovernmental organization which was founded in 1985 in Tehran by the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. It provides a platform to discuss ways to improve development and promote trade and investment opportunities. The ECO is an ad hoc organisation under the United Nations Charter. The objective is to establish a single market for goods and services, much like the European Union. The ECO's secretariat and cultural department are located in Iran, its economic bureau is in Turkey and its scientific bureau is situated in Pakistan.
The nature of the ECO is that it consists of predominantly Muslim-majority states as it is a trade bloc for the Central Asian states connected to the Mediterranean through Turkey, to the Persian Gulf via Iran, and to the Arabian sea via Pakistan. The current framework of the ECO expresses itself mostly in the form of bilateral agreements and arbitration mechanisms between individual and fully sovereign member states. This makes the ECO similar to ASEAN in that it is an organisation that has its own offices and bureaucracy for implementation of trade amongst sovereign member states.
This consists of the historically integrated agricultural region of the Ferghana Valley which allows for trade and common agricultural production in the border region of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Free trade agreements between the industrial nations of Iran and Turkey are due to be signed[dubious ] in 2017. Likewise the Pakistan-Turkey Free Trade Agreement is due to be signed[dubious ]. Pakistan has free trade agreements with both Afghanistan and Iran which are signed and are in the process of implementation, and currently most of Afghanistan trade is through Pakistan. And the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement is designed to facilitate trade for goods and services for Central Asia via both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is in addition to the Ashgabat agreement which is a multi-modal transport agreement between the Central Asian states.
Further cooperation amongst members is planned in the form of the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline, as well as a Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan pipeline. Current pipelines include the Tabriz–Ankara pipeline in addition to the planned Persian Pipeline. This is in addition to the transportation of oil and gas from resource rich Central Asian states such as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan of minerals and agriculture that complements the industrialisation underway in Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. Pakistan plans to diversify its source of oil and gas supplies towards the Central Asian states including petroleum import contracts with Azerbaijan.
The Economic Cooperation Organization was the successor organisation of what was the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), founded in 1964, which ended activities in 1979. In 1985 Iran, Pakistan and Turkey joined to form the ECO. By the fall of 1992, the ECO expanded to include seven new members; Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The date of the expansion to its present strength, 28 November, is referred to as "ECO Day". The status and power of the ECO is growing. However, the organisation faces many challenges. Most importantly, the member states are lacking appropriate infrastructure and institutions which the Organization is primarily seeking to develop, to make full use of the available resources in the region and provide sustainable development for the member nations. The Economic Cooperation Organisation Trade Agreement (ECOTA) was signed on 17 July 2003 in Islamabad. ECO Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) is a new organization for trade promotion among member states located in Iran (2009). Under the agreement reached between ECO members, the common trade market should be established by 2015.
The official working language of the Economic Cooperation Organization is English. The official names of the organization are:
|GDP per capita
(2018, nominal, US$)
|GDP per capita
(2018, PPP, Int$)
|Current account balance|
(2018, US$ billions)
(251,830 sq mi)
(33,400 sq mi)
(636,372 sq mi)
(1,052,100 sq mi)
(77,202 sq mi)
(307,374 sq mi)
(55,600 sq mi)
(302,535 sq mi)
(188,500 sq mi)
(172,700 sq mi)
|10 total||483.533||7,971,133 km2
(3,077,672 sq mi)
The Council of Ministers (COM) is the highest policy and decision-making body and is composed of the various Ministers of Foreign Affairs or such other representatives of the ministerial rank as may be designated by the respective governments. The COM meets at least once a year by rotation among the member states.
The Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR) consists of the Permanent Representatives/Ambassadors of the member states accredited to the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as to the ECO and the Director-General for ECO Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Regional Planning Council (RPC) is composed of the Head of the Planning Organization of member states or such other representatives of corresponding authorities.
The General Secretariat (GS) consists of six directorates under the supervision of the Secretary-General and his deputies. Two specialized agencies and six regional institutes are acting under the supervision of the GS.
Activities of ECO are conducted through directorates under the supervision of Secretary-General and his Deputies which considered and evolve projects and programs of mutual benefit in the fields of:
|1st||16-17 February 1992||Iran||Tehran|
|2nd||6-7 May 1993||Turkey||Istanbul|
|3rd||14-15 May 1995||Pakistan||Islamabad|
|4th||14 May 1996||Turkmenistan||Ashgabat|
|5th||11 May 1998||Kazakhstan||Almaty|
|6th||10 June 2000||Iran||Tehran|
|7th||14 October 2002||Turkey||Istanbul|
|8th||14 September 2004||Tajikistan||Dushanbe|
|9th||5 May 2006||Azerbaijan||Baku|
|10th||11 March 2009||Iran||Tehran|
|11th||23 December 2010||Turkey||Istanbul|
|12th||16 October 2012||Azerbaijan||Baku|
|13th||1 March 2017||Pakistan||Islamabad|
|14th||4 March 2021||Turkey||Virtual|
|1||Alireza Salari||Iran||August 1988 – July 1992|
|2||Shamshad Ahmad||Pakistan||August 1992 – July 1996|
|3||Önder Özar||Turkey||August 1996 – July 2000|
|4||Abdolrahim Gavahi||Iran||August 2000 – July 2002|
|5||Seyed Mojtaba Arastou||Iran||August 2002 – July 2003|
|6||Bekzhassar Narbayev||Kazakhstan||August 2003 – January 2004|
|7||Askhat Orazbay||Uzbekistan||February 2004 – July 2006|
|8||Khurshid Anwar||Pakistan||August 2006 – July 2009|
|9||Yahya Maroofi||Afghanistan||August 2009 – July 2012|
|10||Shamil Alaskerov||Azerbaijan||August 2012 – July 2015|
|11||Halil Ibrahim Akca||Turkey||August 2015 – July 2018|
|12||Hadi Soleimanpour||Iran||August 2018–present|
|source||ECO Secretaries General|
ECO-CCI was established on 10 June 1993. Its objectives are to contribute to enhancing economic cooperation and relations in trade, industry, agriculture, tourism, contracting, engineering and banking sectors as well as to realize joint investments among the Member States. National Chambers of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey are members of ECO-CCI. The 7th General Assembly Meeting of ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECO-CCI), held on 20 April 2004 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The participating member states offered some proposals for developing new mechanism and modalities for better interaction between member chambers and to re-activate ECO-CCI.
In March 1995, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey agreed to establish ECO Reinsurance Company. The purpose is to supplement the existing reinsurance services in the region, promote the growth of the national underwriting and retention capacities, minimize the outflow of foreign exchange from the region and to support economic development in the region. The three-member countries decided to form a Trilateral Interim Committee to pave the way for the establishment of this important institution. The Trilateral Interim Committee in its various meetings reviewed the relevant issues such as the development of the business plan and signing of the Articles of Agreement already finalized by a group of Experts from the three founding member countries.
Governments of all the ECO Member States has established a central resource pool in the shape of ECO Consultancy and Engineering Company (Pvt.) Ltd., or ECO-CEC, to assist in the development projects sponsored by the ECO Member States or by its Trade and Development Bank. The founder States are the Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and Republic of Turkey which holds an equal share in ECO-CEC, Turkey being represented by two companies and Iran and Pakistan, by one each. The Iranian and Turkish Companies specialize mainly in oil and gas pipelines, refineries, petrochemical and industrial engineering, while the Pakistani partner in all other fields of development engineering, including communications, power, urban development public health, telecommunications, water resources development and agriculture. ECO-CEC provides its expertise in the entire range of consultancy operations, starting from conception, project planning and appraisal, through pre-feasibility, feasibility and financial studies, investigation and exploration, site selection to engineering design, material and equipment specifications, construction supervision, contract management, quality control and preparation of technical manuals for the operation and maintenance of the projects.
The Economic Cooperation Organization Trade and Development Bank (ETDB) was established by the three founding members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in 2005 which are the Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Republic of Turkey. The Republic of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic became the member of the ETDB in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.
As of 31 December 2015, paid in the share capital of the ETDB was SDR 310,870 thousand since Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan are in process of payment of their paid-in capital contributions.
The Bank has successfully started its operations in 2008. Its headquarters is in Istanbul (Turkey) and representative offices are in Karachi (Pakistan) and Tehran (Iran). The primary objective of the Bank is to provide financial resources for projects and programmes in member countries. The Bank offers a range of medium-to-long term products i.e. project finance, corporate finance, trade finance and loans to support small and medium-sized enterprises directly or through financial intermediaries to private and state-owned entities. 11
ECO Cultural Institute (ECI) is affiliated with ECO and aims at fostering understanding and the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of its members through common projects in the field of the media, literature, art, philosophy, sport and education.
All the ECO states are also member-states of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), while ECO itself has observer status in the OIC since 1995.