Economic Cooperation Organization

Motto: "Sustainable socioeconomic development for the people of the region"
Member states of the ECO
Headquarters Tehran, Iran
Official languages English
Demonym Eurasian
Member states
Halil İbrahim Akça [1]
7,937,197 km2 (3,064,569 sq mi) (6th)
 Water (%)
 2017 estimate
463,011,736 (3rd)
58/km2 (150.2/sq mi)
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
US $4.7 trillion (5th)
GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate
US $1.6 trillion (9th)
Time zone (UTC+2 to +5)
Calling code

The Economic Cooperation Organization or ECO is a Eurasian 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.[2] The objective is to establish a single market for goods and services, much like the European Union.[3] 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 in 2017.[4] Likewise the Pakistan-Turkey Free Trade Agreement is due to be signed.[5] 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.[6] This is in addition to the Ashgabat agreement which is a multi-modal transport agreement between the Central Asian states.[7]

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 Kazakshtan 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.[8]


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.[9] ECO Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) is a new organization for trade promotion among member states located in Iran (2009).[10] Under the agreement reached between ECO members, the common trade market should be established by 2015.[3]

Official names

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

  • Azeri: İqtisadi Əməkdaşlıq Təşkilatı
  • Kazakh: Экономикалық ынтымақтастық ұйымы
  • Kyrgyz: Экономикалык Кызматташтык Уюму
  • Pashto:د اقتصادي همکاريو سازمان
  • Persian: سازمان همکاری اقتصادی
  • Russian: Организация экономического сотрудничества
  • Tajik: Созмони Ҳамкории Иқтисодӣ
  • Turkish: Ekonomik İşbirliği Teşkilatı
  • Urdu: اقتصادی تعاون تنظیم
  • Uzbek: Iqtisodiy Hamkorlik Tashkiloti

Objectives & Principles of Cooperation

  • Sustainable economic development of Member States;
  • Progressive removal of trade barriers and promotion of intraregional trade; the 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 & communications infrastructure linking the Member States with each other and with the outside world;
  • Economic liberalization and privatization;
  • Mobilization and utilization of ECO region's material resources;
  • Effective utilization 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 organizations.
  • 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 utilization of ECO institutions, agreements and cooperative arrangements with other regional and international organizations including multilateral financial institutions;
  • Common endeavors to develop a harmonized approach for participation in regional and global arrangements;
  • Realization of economic cooperation strategy; and Exchanges in educational, scientific, technical and cultural fields


Full members

Official Name
Area (km²)
(per km²)
GDP (2016)(nominal)[11]
GDP (2016)
(per capita)
Official languages
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Kabul 647,500 27,657,145 42.7 $18.886 billion $565 Afghani Dari, Pashto
Republic of Azerbaijan Baku 86,600 9,802,000 113.2 $37.556 billion $3,956 Manat Azerbaijani
Islamic Republic of Iran Tehran 1,648,195 79,909,700 47.8 $376.755 billion $4,683 Rial Persian
Republic of Kazakhstan Astana 2,724,900 17,926,500 6.6 $184.361 billion $7,453 Tenge Kazakh, Russian
Kyrgyz Republic Bishkek 199,900 6,120,400 30.6 $6.551 billion $1,073 Som Kyrgyz, Russian
Islamic Republic of Pakistan Islamabad 796,095 196,358,000 222.7 $304.4 billion $1,629 Rupee Urdu, English
Republic of Tajikistan Dushanbe 143,100 8,551,000 59.8 $6.922 billion $800 Somoni Tajik, Russian (interethnic)
Republic of Turkey Ankara 783,562 79,814,871 101.9 $857.429 billion $10,743 Lira Turkish
Turkmenistan Ashgabat 488,100 4,751,120 9.7 $36.180 billion $6,622 Manat Turkmen, Russian (interethnic)
Republic of Uzbekistan Tashkent 447,400 32,121,000 71.8 $66.502 billion $2,122 Som Uzbek, Russian (interethnic)



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.

  • ECO Directorate of Industry & Agriculture
  • ECO Directorate of Trade & Investment
  • ECO Directorate of Energy, Mineral & Environment
  • ECO Directorate of Transport & Communications
  • ECO Directorate of Economic Research & Statistics
  • ECO Directorate of Project Research & Development


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:

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

Summits and General Secretaries

List of summits

Heads of State
Meeting Date Country Location
1st16-17 February 1992 IranTehran
2nd6-7 May 1993 TurkeyIstanbul
3rd14-15 May 1995 PakistanIslamabad
4th14 May 1996 TurkmenistanAshgabat
Extraordinary14 May 1997 TurkmenistanAshgabat
5th11 May 1998 KazakhstanAlmaty
6th10 June 2000 IranTehran
7th14 October 2002 TurkeyIstanbul
8th14 September 2004 TajikistanDushanbe
9th5 May 2006 AzerbaijanBaku
10th11 March 2009 IranTehran
11th23 December 2010 TurkeyIstanbul
12th16 October 2012 AzerbaijanBaku
13th1 March 2017 [14][15] PakistanIslamabad

List of General Secretaries

# Name Nationality Period
1 Alireza Salari[16] August 1988 - July 1992
2 Shamshad Ahmad August 1992 - July 1996
3 Önder Özar August 1996 - July 2000
4 Abdolrahim Gavahi August 2000 - July 2002
5 Seyed Mojtaba Arastou August 2002 - July 2003
6 Bekzhassar Narbayev August 2003 - January 2004
7 Askhat Orazbay February 2004 - July 2006
8 Khurshid Anwar August 2006 - July 2009
9 Yahya Maroofi August 2009 - July 2012
10 Shamil Alaskerov August 2012 - July 2015
11 Halil İbrahim Akça August 2015 - July 2018
12 Hadi Soleimanpour August 2018 - present
source ECO Secretaries General

Regional Institutions & Agencies

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.[17]

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.

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.[18]


  • 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 Shipping Company

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.

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

See also


  1. ".:The Secretariat of Economic Cooperation Organization:". Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  2. United Nations Charter (Chapter VIII).
  3. 1 2
  5. "Pakistan-Turkey sixth round of talks on FTA next week".
  6. Center, Asia Regional Integration. "Pakistan-Turkey Preferential Trade Agreement Free Trade Agreement".
  7. "Pakistan announces to join Ashgabat Agreement, Lapis Lazuli Corridor - Pakistan - Dunya News".
  8. "Away from Gulf, Pakistan set to import oil, gas from Central Asia - The Express Tribune". 4 February 2017.
  9. "ECOTA" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  10. Archived 2 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. "World Economic Outlook Database". International Monetary Fund. 18 April 2017.
  12. Some data refers to IMF staff estimates but some are actual figures for the year 2017, made in 12 April 2017. World Economic Outlook Database-April 2017, International Monetary Fund. Accessed on 18 April 2017.
  13. ECO Secretariat ECO Secretary General Meets the Representatives of Turkish Cyprus State in Tehran
  14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. "Pakistan to host 13th ECO Summit in Islamabad next week". Dawn. February 25, 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  16. "ECO Secretary Generals". Archived from the original on 19 January 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  17. "Leading News Resource of Pakistan". Daily Times. 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  18. "ECO Cultural Institute's Medals". Retrieved 31 October 2014.
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