Economic Cooperation Organisation

The Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) is an intergovernmental organisation involving seven Asian and three Eurasian nations.

The Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) 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 (Chap. VIII). The common objective is to establish a single market for goods and services, much like the European Union (EU). ECO’s secretariat and cultural department are located in Tehran, its economic bureau is in Turkey and its scientific bureau is situated in Pakistan. The organisation’s population is 416,046,863 and the area is 8,620,697 km. It was founded by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.

History and role

The ECO is an intergovernmental regional organisation established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for promoting economic, technical and cultural cooperation among the member states. It was the successor organisation of what was the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), founded in 1962, which ended activities in 1979. In the fall of 1992, the ECO expanded to include seven more members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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 Organisation 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 July 17, 2003, in Islamabad. ECO Trade Promotion Organisation (TPO) is a new organisation for trade promotion among member states located in Iran (2009).
Member states
Country Capital Area Population Density GDP
(Per Capita)
Currency Official
Afghanistan Kabul 647,500 28,150,000 46
$10,624 million
$501 Afghani Dari, Pashto
Azerbaijan Baku 86,600 8,997,400 103
$43,019 million
$5,764 Manat Azerbaijani
Iran Tehran 1,648,195 75,078,000 45
$331,015 million
$4,777 Rial Persian
Kazakhstan Astana 2,724,900 16,197,000 6
$109,115 million
$7,019 Tenge Kazakh
Kyrgyzstan Bishkek 199,900 5,482,000 27
$4,578 million
$851 Som
Kyrgyz, Russian
Pakistan Islamabad 803,940 170,030,500 211
$166,545 million
$981 Rupee
Urdu, English
Tajikistan Dushanbe 143,100 6,952,000 49
$4,978 million
$764 Somoni Tajik
Turkey Ankara 783,562 72,561,312 93
$617,099 million
$8,723 Lira Turkish
Turkmenistan Ashgabat 488,100 5,110,000 10
$19,947 million
$3,904 Manat Turkmen
Uzbekistan Tashkent 447,400 27,488,000 61
$32,817 million
$1,320 Som Uzbek
Organisation structure

The following organs exist:
The Council of Ministers (COM) is the highest policy and decision-making body and is composed of Ministers of Foreign Affairs or such other representatives of the ministerial rank as may be designated by the Government. The Council of Ministers meets at least once a year by rotation among the member states.

 The Council of Permanent Representatives (CPR) is consisting 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 Organisation of the member states or such other representatives of corresponding authorities.

The General Secretariat consists of six directorates under the supervision of the Secretary General and his deputies. Two specialised agencies and six regional institutes are acting under the supervision of the General Secretariat.

  • Directorate of Industry and Agriculture
  • Directorate of Trade and Investment
  • Directorate of Energy, Minerals and Environment
  • Directorate of Transport and Communications
  • Directorate of Economic Research and Statistics
  • Directorate of Project Research


Activities of ECO are conducted through Directorates under the supervision of Secretary General and his deputies which considered and evolve projects and programmes of mutual benefit in the fields of:

  • Trade and Investment
  • Transport and Telecommunications
  • Energy, Minerals and Environment
  • Agriculture, Industry and Tourism
  • Human Resources and Sustainable Development
  • Project andonomic Research and Statistics


  • Sustainable economic development of member states;
  • Progressive removal of trade barriers and promotion of intra-regional trade; Greater role of ECO region in the growth of world trade; gradual integration of the economies of the member states with the world economy;
  • Development of transport and communications infrastructure linking the member states with each other and with the outside world;
  • Economic liberalisation and privatisation;
  • Mobilisation and utilisation of ECO region’s material resources;
  • Effective utilisation of the agricultural and industrial potentials of ECO region;
  • Regional cooperation for drug abuse control, ecological and environmental protection and strengthening of historical and cultural ties among the peoples of the ECO region; and
  • Mutually beneficial cooperation with regional and international organisations.

Principles of cooperation

  • Sovereign equality of the member states and mutual advantage;
  • Linking of national economic, development plans with ECO’s immediate and long-term objectives to the extent possible;
  • Joint efforts to gain freer access to markets outside the ECO region for the raw materials and finished products of the member states;
  • Effective utilisation of ECO institutions, agreements and cooperative arrangements with other regional and international organisations, including multilateral financial institutions;
  • Common endeavours to develop a harmonised approach for participation in regional and global arrangements;
  • Realisation of economic cooperation strategy; and exchanges in educational, scientific, technical and cultural fields

Regional institutions and specialised agencies

  • ECO Shipping Company
  • ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • ECO Reinsurance Company
  • ECO Trade and Development Bank
  • ECO Consultancy and Engineering Company
  • ECO Supreme Audit Institutions
  • ECO Cultural Institute
  • ECO Science Foundation
  • ECO Educational Institute
  • ECO Drug Control Coordination Unit
  • ECO Trade promotion Unit
  • ECO Post

ECO Trade and Development Bank

The Economic Cooperation Organisation Trade and Development Bank (the Bank) was established by the three founding members of the ECO in 2005; Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. Its subscribed capital is 300 million SDR, which is to be paid by the member countries equally. For the first five years starting from November 2006, the first President of the Bank is from Turkey (Mr. Murat Ulus) and the position of the President will pass to other member countries on a four-year rotation basis after the first five years. The headquarters of the Bank is in Istanbul, Turkey.

The mission of the ECO Trade and Development Bank is to initiate, promote and provide financial facilities to expand intra-regional trade and to promote the economic development of ECO member countries

ECO Cultural Institute (ECI)

The 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. ECI’s Charter was signed on March 15, 1995, in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Relationship with other organisations

All the ECO states are also member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), while ECO itself has observer status in the OIC since 1995.
Secretary Generals

Name Country Period

  1. Alireza Salari Iran 1988 – 1992
  2. Shamshad Ahmad Pakistan 1992 – 1996
  3. Onder Ozar Turkey 1996 – 2000
  4. Abdolrahim Gavahi Iran 2000 – 2002
  5. Seyed Mojtaba Arastou Iran 2002 – 2003
  6. Bekzhassar Narbayev Kazakhstan 2003 – 2004
  7. Askhat Orazbay Kazakhstan 2004 – 2006
  8. Khurshid Anwar Pakistan 2006 – 2009
  9. Yahya Maroofi Afghanistan 2009 –
    BShoaib Sangat Baloch

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