SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) an apex trade body in the region President Ruwan Edirisinghe Saturday said that SAARC region holds immense trade and investment potential and to actualize that potential special focus and effort is required for regional integration and stressed on further strengthening the regional forum to meet the aspirations of people of the region.
The 34th Charter Day of SAARC was observed in Islamabad which saw participation of senior government officials, intellectuals, policy makers and top leadership of business community,” says a press release issued here today.
Ruwan Edirisinghe addressing the participants said there was a dire need to utilize this platform to bring prosperity in the region. “If we utilise our potential in its true order, our region could make the higher pace of development within next decade, although currently, it is lagging behind in terms of development, he added.
He said the recent report published by World Bank categorically made it clear that if only India and Pakistan tear down artificial barriers like trust deficit and complicated and non-transparent non-tariff measures, the trade between India and Pakistan can go up to USD 37 billion from the current USD 2 billion. Appreciating Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative of opening Kartarpur Corridor, he said this would help both India and Pakistan to minimize trust deficit.
Ruwan said only trade can reduce tension between both the nuclear armed neighboring countries and it was his belief that trust promotes trade, and trade fosters trust, interdependency and constituencies for peace. He believed that members of SAARC, sooner or later, will overcome the weaknesses, and work on the region’s commonalities and strengths to make inroads for shared prosperity and transform SAARC into a successful organization of friendly neighbors.
The private sector of the region is committed to the socioeconomic integration of South Asia, he said, adding that the business community of the region believes in harmony and advocates regional economic integration to address the major challenges the region faces, including job creation and poverty.
“There is a need to understand the historical context and uniqueness of South Asia as a region. We do not need to compare SAARC with other organizations; we need to compare common processes of the organizations; we need to own SAARC, if we want outcomes, we need to see SAARC in a positive way,” he emphasized.
Addressing on this occasion, SAARC CCI Senior Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik said South Asian cooperation faces multiple challenges as this constitutes the world’s second least developed region after Sub-Saharan Africa and its per capita GDP, in terms of purchasing power parity, is three times below the global average while it has more poor people than the rest of the world.