“South Asia can become super economic hub if all indigenous resources are fully exploited and ironing out political and geographical differences among the SAARC member countries especially result oriented parlays between two nuclear armed neighbors India and Pakistan to make the region a driving engine for the world economy.”
Inaugurating a two-day international communication workshop on “Strategies and Mechanism to optimize the external communications of the SAARC Chamber” Vice President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Pak chapter Iftikhar Ali Malik here said that South Asia has a viable potential to make this region a magnet for the greater trade, investment and financial flows. He stressed the urgent need for regional economic integration in South Asia on the same of Europe, Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Shedding light on the importance of media and communication, he said the media should play positive and constructive role and work towards de-escalating rather than fanning tensions among member countries especially India and Pakistan.
He said South Asia has second highest intra-regional trade costs and underlined the need for a South Asian economic union with greater connectivity and forward movement on pending agreements among member states including rail, energy, highways, cargo and ferry services among the our ports. “The problem is that our land, air and maritime connectivity is still very limited. Inadequate transport facility, complex procedures of customs clearances at the border, limited crossing points for entry of goods, expensive trans-shipment followed by poor flow of payment system,” he added.
He said the intra-regional trade figures for South Asia are disappointing as trade in the region constitutes only 1.4 percent of the total world imports and 1.2 percent of exports, whereas merchandise trade is only 27.9 percent of GDP, the lowest in the world. He said that world development indicators have revealed South Asia houses 1.79 billion world’s population thus representing a large workforce.