Republic of Kazakhstan (RoK) and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)
ECO is an intergovernmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, for promotion of economic, technical and cultural cooperation of member states. In 1992, the Organization was expanded to include seven new members, namely: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan. 28th November is being observed as the ECO Day. The basic economic parameters of activity of Economic Cooperation Organization are established at the Summits, held once in two years. Different conditions of ECO policy and strategy implementation are considered during these meetings. The above-mentioned forums help to exchange the opinions on various problems of regional and global character. Nine Summits were held since 1992. Accordingly, the 1st Summit was held in February 1992 in Teheran; the 2nd Summit - July 1993 in Istanbul; the 3rd Summit - March 1995 in Islamabad; the 4th Summit - May 1996 in Ashgabat; the Extraordinary Summit - May 1997 in Ashgabat; the 5th Summit - May 1998 in Almaty; the 6th Summit - June 2000 in Tehran; the 7th Summit – October 2002 in Istanbul; the 8th Summit – September 2004 in Dushanbe; the 9th Summit - May, 2006 in Baku. During the above mentioned forums Istanbul Declaration and Revised Izmir Treaty, which are the basic documents of ECO, have been approved. This helped to revise the strategy and priorities of ECO.
The activity of the Organization is regularized by Quetta Plan of Action (1993), Almaty Plan for Development of transport sector in the region (1993), Istanbul (1993), Islamabad (1995), Asghabad (1996) Declarations, Revised Izmir Treaty (1996), Asghabad (1997), Almaty (1997), Almaty (1998), Tehran (2000), Istanbul (2002), Dushanbe (2004), Baku (2006) Declarations. In 2005 during ECO COM meeting held in Astana, “ECO Vision 2015” was approved. From the time of joining the Organization, Kazakhstan showed itself as an active participant of cooperation process in all spheres. Representatives of Kazakhstan regularly participates in the meeting on different levels. The priority areas for Kazakhstan are transport and communications, trade relations development, energy and environment. Kazakhstan treats ECO as an effective mechanism for social, economic and cultural development between the countries. The Organization is a reliable basis for multilateral economic cooperation, effective communication for the region stability. Playing together with the founding member states (Iran, Pakistan, Turkey) one of the leading roles in ECO, Kazakhstan continues to strengthen its position in the region.
Transport and communications
Without corresponding development of transit transport potential, creation of a modern transport network, formation of new routes of transportation of the goods to the world markets, expansion of economic cooperation and trade in region is not obviously possible. The majority of member states of the Organization are landlocked, not having any exit to the sea, and consequently, to the world markets. Therefore Kazakhstan attaches paramount significance to the development of transit transport possibilities of the region, as the main component of export of raw materials and goods.
In October, 1993 during the 1st meeting of ECO Ministers of transport and communications held in Almaty, the basic plan for development of transport infrastructure of ECO region was approved. As a result, the implementation of this document will help to the region to be connected by roads and railways, airlines and modern telecommunications.
According to this plan, the systematic work on establishment of modern and effective transport network corresponding to the world standards is being done in Kazakhstan.
In 1995, the construction of railways, connected the railway system of southern Iranian ports of Persian Gulf with the northern part of the country was finished. In 1997, the railways of the Trans-Asian corridor was connected with Mashad-Serakhs-Tedzhent segment, which is a part of 700-kilometer railway of Bafa-Bandar-Abbas railroad. As a result, Ljanjungan seaport located at the east coast of China was connected with Iranian port Bandar-Abbas in Persian Gulf through Urumchi, Almaty, Tashkent and Teheran, providing Kazakhstan access to the seas, on the one hand, and through Istanbul to Europe, on another, having reduced time of transportation of cargoes up to 25-30 %. Working meetings of the representatives of railway administrations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran concerning interaction and organization of international transportations became regular.
During the 2nd meeting of Ministers of transport and communications, held in March 1998 in Asghabad, the Plan of action for decade of transport and communications (1998-2007) was approved.
In May 1995, in order to revive the Great Silk Road which connects a number of the states of region, cargo transportation on boundary railway transition Serakhs (Turkmenistan) - Serakhs (Iran) was launched. It showed the necessity of opening international passenger traffic over Trans-Asian railway for attraction of tourists and businessmen.
According to accepted during the 4th meeting of ECO Heads of railways October, 1999, Lahore, Pakistan) Plan of action for opening of the international passenger service on Almaty - Tashkent - Тurkmenabad - Tehran - Istanbul route, the first pilot (technical) demonstration run of the train over this
route was launched from March, 14 till March, 21st, 2002. The issue of regular service is still under the process of consideration.
In accordance with the decision of the 5th meeting of ECO Heads of railways September, 2000, Almaty) the special working group for preparation of the admission of a demonstration container train on Almaty - Tashkent - Teheran - Istanbul route of Trans-Asian railway was established.
Kazakhstan is the initiator of the largest regional project of building the Transkazakhstan railway with the european track lying through the territories of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey and further to Europe. This project has a strategic value not only for the specified countries, but also for the region as a whole.
On June, 19-20th, 2006 the representatives of the Ministry of transport of Kazakhstan and "Kaztransservice" joint-stock company participated in the 1st meeting of Working group on implementation of the project of Trans-Asian railway on the basis of the decisions approved during the 6th Meeting of ECO Ministers of transport and communications. They discussed the measures on performance the project, volumes of cargoes and passengers in both directions from Istanbul to Almaty and back, the schedule of container trains, railroad rates, harmonization of existing railway information systems of member states, the organization of a passenger train over Istanbul-Almaty route, and also the renewal and functioning of a China-Middle East-Europe corridor. The 2nd meeting of the working group and the 9th meeting of Heads of railway administrations were held in June, 12-14th, 2007 in Kazakhstan.
With a view of realization of the reached arrangements in the given sphere, Kazakhstan’s party is considering the possibility of carrying out the 2nd meeting of TTCC for implementation of ECO TTFA in 2008 in Kazakhstan. On February, 26-27th, 2007 the 1st meeting of railway committee of TTCC (all in all there are 4 committees : legal, insurance, road and railway)was held in Ankara. On May, 29-30th, 2007 the 1st meeting of insurance committee was held in Tehran. For adjustment of close interaction in the sphere of air transportation between member states Kazakhstan prepared and sent for studying by counterparts the ECO Framework agreement for cooperation in the field of air transport. The special attention is paid to cooperation in the field of communications, in particular within the framework of TAEFOS project. On November, 15-19th, 2005 the second meeting of ECO Marine organizations was held in Istanbul. The following issues were considered during that forum:
- Role of sea transportations in stimulation of economy of member states and their influence on the development of multimodal transportations in ECO region;
- Tariffs of sea transportations in the region;
- Port services for the landlocked states;
- Technical cooperation on sea transportations.
The 15th COM meeting was held in Astana in October 2005. The meeting considered and approved the project named "ECO Visions till 2015", offered in September, 2004 in Dushanbe (Republic of Tajikistan) during the 8th ECO Summit, as supervising principles of the future strategy of cooperation in ECO region for the next twenty years.
The 6th Meeting of ECO Ministers of transport and communications was held in April, 24-26th, 2006 in Teheran. Kazakhstan’s delegation took part in that meeting. The report of ECO Secretariat on realization of the Program of Action for the decade of transport and communications was approved. The issues regarding the development of TAEFOS fiber-optical communication line and joining ECO member states the Euroasian postal union, established by postal authorities of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey, were discussed. Positive results on cooperation in the field of postal services and telecommunications, together with the importance of connection of Peshawar-Kabul-Gerat-Mashhad cable line to TAEFOS were mentioned by the participants.
Following the results of the Meeting, Tehran Communiqué was approved.
Trade and economic relations.
Transport-communication cooperation level increasing will much promote efficiency of trade expansion in region. Now the trade sphere became the major tool of regional cooperation development and pushed into the foreground in Organization activity.
ECO trade-economic potential is not fully involved. In many respects, it is associated with existing tariff and Customs barriers complicating barter in the ECO countries. Also, the situation speaks following objective reasons:
- ECO member-states economic development level distinction;
- The accepted obligations of the separate states regarding the coordination of a foreign trade policy within the other regional economic associations (Euro-Asia EC; the CIS; Turkey is in the customs union from EU; Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey - members of the WTO);
- Absence of the expressed leader in the Organization, which have necessary economic potential and capable to lead all other countries of region;
- Absence of a single approach to numerous economic projects in member-states.
The important element of regional trade expansion is prompt creation of ECO trade and development Bank that will be financing of various regional projects. ECO TDB foundation agreement has been signed by three countries-founders, namely – Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. It came into effect on August 3, 2005 the HQ of Bank will be in Turkey. The authorized capital of TDB will be 1 billion, special drawing rights (SDR). The share capital will be 300 million SDR of the authorized capital, i.e. 100 million SDR on each member. At the present time, RoK Embassy in Turkey prepares the visit of the management of a sustainable development fund Kazyna and state actives management holding Samruk in ECO TDB HQ for detailed studying of ECO TDB cooperation ways.
For the further development and consolidation of customs cooperation in ECO region, it is necessary to continue customs administrations heads Councils work in simplification and harmonization of customs procedures.
In connection with the necessity of communication process acceleration and simplification on contraband and customs rules breach between ECO member-states and development of new and more effective methods of interaction, it is obviously important to accelerate ECO Bank data base foundation on contraband and customs offences.
Economic researches and statistics Center establishment to develop the economic cooperation of system and operative information interchange in ECO proposed by Azerbaijan is submitted for Organization’s appropriate structures consideration.
RoK Finance Ministry Customs Committee representatives have attended the fifth meeting of ECO member-states Customs heads Council and Subcommittee experts’ first meeting on definition of UNDP Report priority recommendations about the coordinated work of customs and procedures simplification between ECO member countries held on July 3-5, 2006 in Istanbul (Turkish Republic).
Ascertaining the regional institute statute draft development expert group on standardization, certification, accreditation and metrology decision was accepted during the third meeting of ECO member-states industry and trade ministers held in December 2006 in Lahore (Pakistan). The group included representatives of Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Turkey and ECO Secretary. Expert group first meeting has taken place on February 12-14, 2007. At the given stage, the text of the Statute is agreed. It is expected, that one of offices of regional institute will settle down in Kazakhstan.
For Kazakhstan possessing considerable stocks of oil and gas, the great value has a question of their transportation to the international market, definitions of optimum routes of the future export pipelines. Taking into account RoK intentions on increase in an oil recovery and gas at the expense of an intensification operating and development of new deposits and presence ECO countries which have enough wide experience in this area, and also preparations of highly-skilled personnel, Kazakhstan is interested in expansion of cooperation with Organization member-states in power sphere, including of interaction of power systems of the region states.
One of the basic points of the 1997Ashgabad declaration is the establishment of regional consortia on building new oil and gas pipelines, which will provide to the midland states - to manufacturers of hydrocarbon raw materials an exit into the international markets.
During the first meeting of ECO member-states power/oil ministers held in November 2000 in Islamabad ECO region power and oil cooperation plan on 2000 – 2005 is accepted.
The important problem of integration cooperation of the central-Asian region countries entered in ECO is the creation of the general power market that is caused by necessity of restoration and development the mutually economic communications advantageous between them with the purpose of satiation of home market with cheap kinds of power resources, coverings of requirement of consumers and expansion of possibilities of export deliveries of power resources in the third countries.
According to the Contract on parallel work of power supply systems of the Central Asia countries, their electro power systems function in a parallel mode that is a major factor of increase of the general level of their reliability and profitability.
The Islamic bank of development (IBD) has given ECO the grant at a rate of 400 thousand dollars USA for preparation of technical and economic research under the project of mutual connection and parallel functioning of power systems of all ECO member countries.
At V Summit of ECO member-states and governments heads held in Almaty in May, 1998 the preservation of the environment as one of the priority directions of cooperation was pointed in the Almaty declaration.
On June 30, 2006 in Almaty third meeting of ECO member-states environment preservation ministers is held, to which the senior officials meeting (SO) preceded, that has taken place on June 28-29th, 2006.
Ministers and heads of delegations have spoken with national reports on a course of performance of the Regional plan on cooperation of ECO member-states on preservation of the environment (2003-2007) and have signed the Almaty communique.
Meetings of Working group on ECO member-states cooperation plan cooperation implementation on environment preservation (2003-2007), held in 2005 and 2006, also to efforts of ECO Secretary on preparation and the publication of first four editions of ECO Ecological bulletin, has approved the work done by Special working group on establishment of ECO Ecological college, and its offer on creation of Institute of ecological sciences and technologies for ECO region that will temporarily function on the basis of existing Ecological college in Teheran (Iran).
At this meeting, Kazakhstan has submitted the following initiatives for ECO member-states consideration:
- About joining to the European and Asian processes of environment protection and steady growth and establishment of Secretary of the Eurasian process and the Eurasian educational centre in Almaty;
- About creation of a transboundary environment-economic zone of steady growth for preservation of an unique ecosystem in ECO region.
Tourist market is insufficiently studied for the majority of the states of the world country of region. Thereupon, now ECO Secretary prepares an appropriate Plan on tourism development in ECO region in order to develop the tourism industry.
Generally, Kazakhstan always in position of an intensification of interaction with ECO member-states not only on priority spheres, but also in cultural-humanitarian and scientific-technological spheres of cooperation.
At each ECO member-states COM, ECO Awards possessors in economy, sciences and technologies, agriculture and ecology, formation affirm; cultures, histories, the literature and the fine arts are approved among which the winner from RoK, in 2008 is the professor, the doctor of historical sciences Abuseitova M. K, the director of Institute of oriental studies Sulejmenova R.B.