Pakistan will host 3-day meeting of Senior Vice President and all Vice Presidents from SAARC member countries on April 27 to chalk out strategies to materialize its vision 2030 for the common betterment of the people of the South Asia.
Talking to media here Wednesday, SAARC Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik said this meeting of SAARC CCI is crucial in this regard that there is dire need of an economic agenda which will be fruitful and result oriented to diminish poverty and uplift the living standard of the common people of the region. He is much optimistic that this time all SAARC member states will work closely in taking regional co-operation forward. He said SAARC CCI President Ruwan Edirising could play an important role as catalyst to bring all the member states together and ensure timely and effective implementation of programme and activities that would benefit the region.
He said that the agenda of the meeting will be focused on enhancing trade among all the SAARC countries- Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Afghanistan. The matters pertaining to free trade in the SAARC region will also be discussed threadbare.
He said it will also be discussed in details about the proposal of harmonisation of customs procedures and documentations in the region to facilitate movement of goods across the borders. Iftikhar Malik said there is a dire need for improved connectivity in the region – including through land, sea and air route – and early signing of Motor Vehicle and Railways Agreements.
He emphasized the need to overcome the difficulties that the organization faced and expressed the hope that under dynamic leadership of Ruwan Edirising SAARC CCI will play an effective role for the economic integration of the region.
He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to regional cooperation under the umbrella of SAARC for promoting welfare of the people of South Asia, improving their quality of life, economic progress, social uplift and cultural cooperation.
Iftikhar Malik said South Asia is considered the least integrated region in the world due to lack of physical infrastructure and rigid policies to promote trade and investment in each others’ countries. For this purpose, they will discuss new roadshows within and beyond SAARC region to attract investment.
He highlighted that although SAARC region holds immense trade and investment potential, being home to 21 percent of world’s population, it still remains one of the least integrated regional blocs with intra-regional trade constituting only 5 percent of the total world trade, in comparison to 51 percent for NAFTA and 25 percent for ASEAN.
He said SAARC CCI has identified 20 projects in each SAARC member state and joint ventures have been signed for 12 projects across SAARC and some are in the negotiation stage. He said they will also discuss in the meeting of the current status of SAARC industrial parks. “In Pakistan, the government has provided 150 acres of land in Faisalabad and the governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are also keen on providing land to develop industrial parks,” he added.
SAARC CCI Vice President said due to lack of physical infrastructure to unleash the economic potential of the region, SAARC-CCI had also identified some projects of energy, connectivity, and taking advantage of value addition in information technology sector. However, political situation remains very difficult in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Most member nations are at present focused on resolving political uncertainties and economic agenda has taken a back seat.
He said that the increasing interdependence and the notion of shared goals and common concerns were the genesis of SAARC. “By realizing the commitment of leaders that are enshrined in SAARC Charter, the region can progress and bring economic prosperity and social uplift for our generations,” he concluded.