Economic Cooperation Organization

Last updated

Economic Cooperation Organization logo.png
Motto: "Sustainable socioeconomic development for the people of the region"
Economic Cooperation Organization map.svg
Member states of the ECO
Headquarters Tehran, Iran
Official languages English
Demonym(s) Asian
Member states
Hadi Soleimanpour [1]
7,937,197 km2 (3,064,569 sq mi)(6th)
 Water (%)
 2018 estimate
60/km2 (155.4/sq mi)
GDP  (PPP)2018 estimate
US$6.3 trillion [2] (4th)
 Per capita
GDP  (nominal)2018 estimate
US$1.8 trillion(10th)
 Per capita
Time zone UTC +2 to +5
Calling code

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. [3] The objective is to establish a single market for goods and services, much like the European Union. [4] 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. [5] Likewise the Pakistan-Turkey Free Trade Agreement is due to be signed[ dubious ]. [6] 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. [7] This is in addition to the Ashgabat agreement which is a multi-modal transport agreement between the Central Asian states. [8]

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. [9]


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. [10] ECO Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) is a new organization for trade promotion among member states located in Iran (2009). [11] Under the agreement reached between ECO members, the common trade market should be established by 2015. [4]

Official names

The official working language of the Economic Cooperation Organization is English. The official names of the organization are:

Objectives & Principles of Cooperation


Full members

(2018, millions) [12]
Area [13] Population
(2018, nominal,
US$ billions)
GDP per capita
(2018, nominal, US$) [12]
(2018, PPP,
Int$ billions)
GDP per capita
(2018, PPP, Int$) [12]
Current account balance
(2018, US$ billions) [12]
Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan 36.020652,230 km2
(251,830 sq mi)
(143.0/sq mi)
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan 9.94086,600 km2
(33,400 sq mi)
(297.3/sq mi)
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran 82.3601,648,195 km2
(636,372 sq mi)
(129.4/sq mi)
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan 18.4632,724,900 km2
(1,052,100 sq mi)
(17.6/sq mi)
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg  Kyrgyzstan 6.389199,951 km2
(77,202 sq mi)
(82.8/sq mi)
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 200.960796,095 km2
(307,374 sq mi)
(653.8/sq mi)
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan 9.107144,100 km2
(55,600 sq mi)
(163.7/sq mi)
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 81.867783,562 km2
(302,535 sq mi)
(270.6/sq mi)
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan 5.770488,100 km2
(188,500 sq mi)
(30.6/sq mi)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan 32.657447,400 km2
(172,700 sq mi)
(189.0/sq mi)
10 total483.5337,971,133 km2
(3,077,672 sq mi)
(157.1/sq mi)



Council of Ministers

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.

Council of Permanent Representatives

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.

Regional Planning Council

The Regional Planning Council (RPC) is composed of the Head of the Planning Organization of member states or such other representatives of corresponding authorities.

General Secretariat

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:

Summits and General Secretaries

World leaders gathering for the 13th ECO Summit 13th Summit of Economic Cooperation Organization.jpg
World leaders gathering for the 13th ECO Summit

Heads of State summits

1st 16-17 February 1992Flag of Iran.svg  Iran Tehran
2nd 6-7 May 1993Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Istanbul
3rd 14-15 May 1995Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan Islamabad
4th 14 May 1996Flag of Turkmenistan (1992-1997).svg  Turkmenistan Ashgabat
Extraordinary 14 May 1997Flag of Turkmenistan (1997-2001).svg  Turkmenistan Ashgabat
5th 11 May 1998Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan Almaty
6th10 June 2000Flag of Iran.svg  Iran Tehran
7th14 October 2002Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Istanbul
8th14 September 2004Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan Dushanbe
9th5 May 2006Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan Baku
10th11 March 2009Flag of Iran.svg  Iran Tehran
11th23 December 2010Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Istanbul
12th 16 October 2012Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan Baku
13th 1 March 2017 [15] [16] Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan Islamabad

List of General Secretaries

1 Alireza Salari [17] Flag of Iran.svg  Iran August 1988  July 1992
2 Shamshad Ahmad Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan August 1992  July 1996
3 Önder Özar  [ tr ]Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey August 1996  July 2000
4 Abdolrahim Gavahi  [ fa ]Flag of Iran.svg  Iran August 2000  July 2002
5 Seyed Mojtaba Arastou Flag of Iran.svg  Iran August 2002  July 2003
6 Bekzhassar Narbayev Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan August 2003  January 2004
7 Askhat Orazbay Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan February 2004  July 2006
8Khurshid AnwarFlag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan August 2006  July 2009
9 Yahya Maroofi Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan August 2009  July 2012
10 Shamil Alaskerov Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan August 2012  July 2015
11 Halil Ibrahim Akca Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey August 2015  July 2018
12 Hadi Soleimanpour Flag of Iran.svg  Iran August 2018–present
source ECO Secretaries General

Regional Institutions & Agencies

Azerbaijani stamp celebrating the 10th ECO summit in Azerbaijan. Stamps of Azerbaijan, 2009-860.jpg
Azerbaijani stamp celebrating the 10th ECO summit in Azerbaijan.

ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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.

ECO Reinsurance Company

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. [18]

ECO Consultancy & Engineering Company

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.

ECO Trade and Development Bank

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)

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. [19]


Relationship with other organizations

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.

Arab LeagueParliamentary Union of the OIC Member StatesOrganisation of Islamic CooperationArab Maghreb UnionAgadir AgreementCouncil of Arab Economic UnityGulf Cooperation CouncilWest African Economic and Monetary UnionEconomic Cooperation OrganizationTurkic CouncilLiptako-Gourma AuthorityLiptako-Gourma AuthorityEconomic Cooperation OrganizationAlbaniaMalaysiaAfghanistanLibyaAlgeriaTunisiaMoroccoLebanonEgyptSomaliaAzerbaijanBahrainBangladeshBeninBruneiBurkina FasoCameroonChadComorosDjiboutiGambiaGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaIndonesiaIranIraqIvory CoastJordanKazakhstanKuwaitKyrgyzstanMaldivesMaliMauritaniaMozambiqueNigerNigeriaOmanPakistanQatarSudanPalestineSurinameSyriaTajikistanTogoTurkeyTurkmenistanUgandaUnited Arab EmiratesUzbekistanYemenSenegalGabonSierra LeoneArab Maghreb UnionAgadir AgreementSaudi ArabiaEconomic Cooperation Organization
A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational organisations within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (note that Syria is currently suspended from all organizations included in this diagram due to human rights abuses in the ongoing Syrian Civil War). vde

Leaders of ECO member states, as of 2020

See also

Related Research Articles

Central Asia Region of the Asian continent

Central Asia is a region which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north. The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of". Depending on different interpretations, the neighbouring areas are sometimes also considered part of the region.

Foreign relations of Tajikistan

Foreign relations of Tajikistan are based on a desire to secure foreign investment and promote regional security while ensuring Tajikistan's independence. Sirodjidin Aslov is the current Foreign’s Minister of Tajikistan.

Foreign relations of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan's declaration of "permanent neutrality" was formally recognized by the United Nations in 1995. Former President Niyazov stated that the neutrality would prevent Turkmenistan from participating in multi-national defense organizations, but allows military assistance. Its neutral foreign policy has an important place in the country's constitution. Although the Government of Turkmenistan claims to favour trade with and export to the United States and Turkey, it has significant commercial relationships with Russia and Iran and a growing cross-border trade with Afghanistan. The Government of Turkmenistan often appears to be trying to use the conflicting interests of these regional powers as a means to extract concessions from the others, especially on energy issues.

Foreign relations of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in United Nations-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability. Uzbekistan is an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalitions which have dealt with both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a member of the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Partnership for Peace, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization, which comprises 7 Central Asian countries: Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It is a founding member of and remains involved in the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, joined in March 1998 by Tajikistan.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation international organization

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), or Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, China by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter, formally establishing the organisation, was signed in June 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003. The original five nations, with the exclusion of Uzbekistan, were previously members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996. Since then, the organisation has expanded its membership to eight countries when India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO, it meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation. Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability. The SCO is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population, covering three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and nearly half of the human population.

Geostrategy in Central Asia

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Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) or Organization for Regional Cooperation and Development (ORCD) was a multi-governmental organization which was originally established on the 21st of July 1964 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, regional members of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), to allow socio-economic development of the member states. In 1979, this organization was dissolved. It was replaced by Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in 1985. Seven new members were added: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan.

The ECO Cup was a football competition for members of Economic Cooperation Organization. Previously it was known as RCD Cup, RCD abbreviates Regional Corporation for Development and was an economic cooperation between Iran, Pakistan and Turkey from 1964 to 1979. A new organisation, ECO, was set up in 1985. In 1992, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan joined ECO.

International Conference on Afghanistan, London (2006)

The Afghanistan Compact was the outcome of the London Conference on Afghanistan in 2006. It was the result of consultations of the government of Afghanistan with the United Nations and the international community and established the framework for international cooperation with Afghanistan for the following five years. The Afghanistan Compact is a political commitment of the participants and not an actionable treaty.

CARICC - Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors

The Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process was established to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly encouraging security, political, and economic cooperation among Afghanistan and its neighbors. This region-led dialogue was launched in November 2011 to expand practical coordination between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in facing common threats, including counterterrorism, counternarcotics, poverty, and extremism. The process has 3 pillars, namely, Political Consultation, Confidence Building Measures(CBM), and cooperation with regional organizations. India is the lead country for trade, commerce and investment CBM. The United States and over 20 other nations and organizations serve as "supporting nations" to the process.

The Economic Cooperation Organization Trade Agreement or ECOTA is a preferential trade agreement reached on 17 July 2003 at the ECO summit in Islamabad whereby a preferential trade region was formed between the countries of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As of 2008, the ECOTA is in effect. As part of ECO Vision 2025, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey agreed to implement free trade area by 2025.

The 1993 ECO summit was the second Economic Cooperation Organization summit, held between 6–7 May in Istanbul, Turkey. Afghanistan was welcomed as the 10th member state of the ECO during the summit.

The 1995 ECO summit was the third Economic Cooperation Organization summit, held 14–15 May 1995 in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The 1996 ECO summit was the fourth Economic Cooperation Organization summit, held between 14–15 May 1996 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

The 2012 ECO summit was the twelfth Economic Cooperation Organization summit, held on 16 October 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) is an intergovernmental organization and a specialized agency of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). It was established in Islamabad, Pakistan on December 2011, with holding of the first meeting of Board of Trustees (BoT), the highest decision making body. ECOSF aims to promote scientific and technology research with an end goal to raise socio-economic standing of ten member states.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation is an intergovernmental organization established in 1985 with cooperation of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. The crucial goal of this organization is to achieve sustainable economic development, promote trade, integrate to the world economy and develop efficient transport system. Azerbaijan joined the organization in 1992. From August 2012 till 2016, the Secretary General of ECO is a representative from Azerbaijan.


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