Last updated: 26 November, 2013

Iran president bemoans “indefensible” interregional trade

Iran’s president opened a two-day meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organisation in Tehran Tuesday with a call for reforms to the regional body that would boost its “indefensible” trade volumes.

“With the beginning of the third decade of cooperation, ECO needs to undertake some reforms,” President Hassan Rouhani said in his opening speech, as cited by local media.

Rouhani asked members of ECO, which groups 10 Asian and Eurasian countries, to boost the “absolutely indefensible” interregional trade volume.

“In 2012, international trade volume of (ECO) member states stood at $817 billion, of which interregional trade accounted for only 10 percent, or $83 billion,” official IRNA news agency quoted Rouhani as saying.

“In 2011, ECO member countries only absorbed $41 billion of the total $1.5 trillion foreign investment in the region,” he said.

The ECO meeting comes as Iran’s ailing economy is expected to receive a shot in the arm following the clinching at the weekend of a landmark nuclear deal with world powers which allows limited relief from sanctions and the freeing up of some of its frozen assets.

ECO was founded in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey to promote economic, technical and cultural cooperation among member states.

It was later extended to include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.