ISLAMABAD: The 8th meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) of Heads and Customs Administration ended on Tuesday with a few words from the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar Khan.

Mr Khan said Pakistan Customs was committed to working closely with the ECO and World Customs Organisation (WCO) on adoption of international best practices through enhanced representation.

He said Pakistan had already moved ahead on this front by issuing its rules for implementation of Transports Internationaux Routiers Convention, commonly known as TIR Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets.

“This will surely help in promoting ECO regional trade,” he added. He called for simplification of customs procedures for ease of trade, calling it an important step for enabling the economic integration of ECO members.

“We must benefit from the existing agreements signed by ECO countries,” he said, adding that all member countries need to take advantage of the existing MoUs to maximize the benefits for capacity building, enforcement operations and joint exercises.

“We should also benefit from the ECO Agreement on Mutual Administrative Assistance in custom matters in order to share information”, he said.

The special assistant said the electronic data interchange (EDI) is an important instrument of cooperation in this age of fast communication and paperless world. “This can assist the customs administrations to share vital information to facilitate legitimate trade”, he said.

Pakistan holds a very important strategic position on the world map due to its proximity to China, Russia and India, he emphasised, adding there is potential for Pakistan to become the gateway to Central Asia for oil and energy trade.

Referring to the latest ECO Statistical Report, Haroon Khan said the share of the ECO in the global trade was almost 2 per cent as against ECO region’s population of 6.2 per cent in the world population. “We can see from these numbers that we have a tremendous opportunity to grow and reach our maximum potential,” he said.

He also emphasised the role Pakistan can play to impart training to customs personnel from Central Asia, especially in observing port activity and transit trade.

Those who attended the meeting include Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General World Customs Organization; Kanan Nazarov, Deputy Secretary General ECO, Azerbaijan; Aydin Aliyev, Chairman of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan; Forood Asgari, Head, Iran Customs Administration; Kenbayev Shyngys, Chief Expert of the International Cooperation Division, State Revenue Committee of Kazakhstan; Azim Tursunzoda, Deputy Head of Customs Service, Tajikistan; Sezai UCARMAK, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Customs and Trade, Turkey; Chairman FBR Tariq Mahmood Pasha and senior officials of Pakistan Customs Service were also present.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017