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    ECO meeting in Kabul on May 31

    KABUL(PAN): Commerce ministers of member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) are due to meet in Kabul later this month, an official said on Tuesday.

    The three-day conference beginning May 31 will be an opportunity for non-member states to sign the Economic Cooperation Organization Trade Agreement (ECOTA), Afghanistan's Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) deputy chairman, Khan Jan Alokozay, said.

    The objectives of the agreement are to foster, support, and boost regional trade based on common principles, and to reinforce economic cooperation among ECO member states through the elimination of non-tariff barriers, reduction of tariffs, and exchange of concessions.

    Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan established the Economic Cooperation Organization in 1985. Other ECO member states are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

    The member countries, which have not yet signed the agreement, include Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

    "Afghan traders have been facing problems in the sector of transit trade in countries who have not yet signed the accord," Alokozay said.

    He said thousands of Afghanistan-bound containers remained stranded in Pakistan's port city of Karachi for a long time due to a lack of transit treaty.

    Iranian officials say they would allow Afghan traders to import fuel through Iran only from countries having relations with Iranian traders.

    Alokozay, criticising the ECO members, said the organisation only hold meetings instead of taking practical measures.

    Officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, say the agenda for the ECO meeting had been prepared.