13:47 / 09.11.2023

Shavkat Mirziyoyev voices several proposals to strengthen cooperation between ECO member states

Uzbekistan is in favor of summarizing the implementation of the ECO Vision- 2025, the framework document of the organization.

Photo: Presidential press service

According to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, it is high time for developing the “Strategic Objectives of Economic Cooperation-2035”.

“This conceptual document will define the future priority areas of engagement for our organization, building on a thorough analysis of the enormous and still untapped opportunities,” the president said.

The document will highlight the following main areas:

First, the promotion of mutual trade

Last year, the trade turnover between the member states totaled $85 billion. This represents only 8% of their total foreign trade.

Regrettably, the years of efforts to develop a preferential trade agreement have not delivered the expected results. There are still many restrictions and problems with barrier-free trade.

Member states must openly admit this and take a new perspective to turn the situation into a positive shift.

In this regard, Mirziyoyev encouraged the adoption of the ECO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement developed by the experts.

It will focus on the following:

- facilitation of trade in goods and services;

- removal of technical and non-tariff barriers;

- digitalization of customs, phytosanitary, and veterinary procedures;

- development of electronic commerce.

According to preliminary estimates, these measures will enable reaching at least a twofold growth in mutual trade by 2035.

Second, the strengthening of transport and communication connectivity

The majority of the member states are landlocked. Therefore, they need to fully utilize the potential of transcontinental transport corridors that pass through their territories and link them with major markets in the Asia-Pacific region, South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

The launch of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan and Trans-Afghan multimodal roads in the coming future meets the interests of all member states.

President Mirziyoyev encouraged other members to join the document, adopted at the meeting of transport ministers on November 2, 2023, in Tashkent on the development of the “Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan-Iran–Türkiye” Transport Corridor, and optimize mutual tariffs and fees.

It is worth noting that Uzbekistan has digitized freight documents with Azerbaijan and Türkiye and is implementing similar projects with other countries.

The president proposed to establish ECO’s Digital Transport and Customs Office in Tashkent in order to widely implement and effectively coordinate these modern systems.

Third, the promotion of industrial cooperation and business ties, forming industrial hubs

The member countries have developed the Program of Joint Actions to increase the flow of mutual investments, ensure their protection, and deepen industrial cooperation. The document has been submitted to the Secretariat of the Organization.

The Program seeks to promote new joint projects in the fields of chemistry, energy, geology, textiles, leather, footwear, food, pharmaceuticals, and construction.

Uzbekistan plans to expand its partnership with the ECO Trade and Development Bank for this noble cause.

The Fifth Business Forum, which was held yesterday in Tashkent and attended by heads of chambers of commerce and industry and many companies clearly demonstrated the great potential Uzbekistan has in the private sector.

Mirziyoyev proposed to establish an Interregional Industrial Exhibition within the ECO and hold its first event in Uzbekistan in 2024.

Fourth, ensuring guaranteed energy security

The harmonization of national energy strategies, the development of interregional energy transmission networks, and the widespread introduction of “green” energy technologies are becoming increasingly important.

Uzbekistan is carrying out extensive work on the development of renewable energy sources, which is one of the main directions of the Organization’s Energy Cooperation Strategy.

By 2030, Uzbekistan seeks to create 25 gigawatts of renewable energy sources and increase the share of renewables in the country’s energy mix to 40%. This year alone, the republic is launching 2 gigawatts of large wind and solar power plants.

Uzbekistan is also taking the initial steps in green hydrogen production. The country is ready for open dialogue and exchange of experience with all countries in these areas.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed to establish a new Council of Ministers of Energy within the ECO to thoroughly discuss issues of cooperation and conduct systemic work.

Fifth, the intensification of contacts in addressing climate change and environmental protection

Today, member states are facing the serious consequences of these acute problems.

The melting of glaciers, water scarcity, desertification, dust storms, soil erosion, and the loss of biodiversity are causing serious concerns.

President Mirziyoyev extended his gratitude to all countries for supporting the initiative to establish a High-level Dialogue Platform for Ecology within the Organization.

Uzbekistan is ready to organize its first meeting as part of the Samarkand Climate Forum in 2024.

The president invited representatives of the member countries to take an active part in the committee meeting to review the assessment of the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Uzbekistan the following week.

Mirziyoyev urged leaders of the ECO member states to support the Samarkand Declaration to combat sand and dust storms, which are becoming a growing problem.

Sixth, enhancing cooperation in the tourism sector

The General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization recently held in Samarkand with the participation of more than 140 countries has become a historic event in attracting the attention of the world to the tourism potential of our region.

Today, the countries of the organization accommodate – 90 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and nearly 80 million tourists visit them annually.

Given the fact that cross-border routes are becoming increasingly popular, the president proposed to introduce Joint Tourist Routes and increase joint tourist programs within the “Silk Road” Tourism Brand.

“I would like to propose to establish a new Consultative Committee on Tourism under the Secretariat of the Organization, consisting of tourism departments and leading specialists of the member states. We are ready to host its first meeting next year in the city of Shakhrisabz, declared the tourism capital of the organization.

Furthermore, I invite member states to take advantage of the opportunities of the WTO International Tourism Academy, opened in Samarkand,” Mirziyoyev said.

Seventh, bringing our people together through deepening cultural and humanitarian cooperation

The annual organization of Culture, Arts, and Cinema Weeks in member states, the establishment of Creative Youth Festivals and Innovative Cooperation Platform, and the strengthening of mutual cooperation in fundamental scientific areas will effectively promote bilateral relations.

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