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[dubious – discuss] in 2017. Likewise the Pakistan-Turkey Free Trade Agreement is due to be signed[dubious – discuss]. 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. This is in addition to the Ashgabat agreement which is a multi-modal transport agreement between the Central Asian states.
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.
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. ECO Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) is a new organization for trade promotion among member states located in Iran (2009). Under the agreement reached between ECO members, the common trade market should be established by 2015.