South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as an apex body in the region turned 25 years and renewed its pledge to continue for greater economic integration by fully exploiting all indigenous natural resources for the progress, prosperity, development and welfare of the people mainly aimed at doing away with poverty in South Asia.
“Our region-wide celebrations and activities will go miles in raising awareness about SAARCCI and enhancing the image of South Asian countries within the region and beyond,” said Suraj Vaidya, President SAARC CCI in an exclusive interview with APP here on Wednesday.
Since its inception, SAARC chamber has facilitated regional cooperation in various areas for the welfare of the people of South Asia. He said SAARC should be more active to address major challenges the region faces; job creation for the youth of South Asia, the region’s biggest asset and poverty.
SAARC CCI has taken initiatives to reinforce a common South Asian identity, given the region’s close historical, cultural and geographical ties and the mutual aspiration and desire of all member states to promote the social and economic welfare of people.
“SAARC Chamber has been proactively advocating stronger commercial and economic relations, for a prosperous and integrated South Asia. Since its inception, SAARC CCI has played an integral role in providing an institutional framework for promoting economic and regional cooperation in South Asia,” said Suraj Vaidya.
He said South Asia comprises 3 per cent of the world’s area, 21 percent of the world’s population and 3.8 percent (US$ 2.9 trillion) of the global economy. The respective governments are trying to give their people a much higher quality of life racked by high illiteracy, dismissal healthcare and sanitation.
He remarked that initiatives may be taken to utilize the potential of cooperation in the areas of tourism and energy of the region. He said that with a view to ensuring trade facilitation in the region the problems regarding SAARC VISA Sticker, removal of trade barriers including NTMs, acceptance of standard certificate, limitations of infrastructure at the ports, etc should be removed.
He said that businessmen of the region are working for integrated, progressive and prosperous South Asia. The areas of focus include attracting intra-regional investment, industrialization of South Asia via embodying SAARC Investment Parks, nourishing and nurturing the Small and Medium Enterprises and to mentor upcoming entrepreneurs across the region.
He said the leading business communities of all eight countries feel that closer collaboration amongst businessmen is integral for regional integration and is a win-win situation for all stakeholders. “At SAARC CCI, our aim is to facilitate businesses of South Asia and to encourage investors from SAARC region and beyond to invest in SAARC countries. We strongly feel that this exchange will address major challenges the region faces; job creation for the youth of South Asia, our region’s biggest asset; and poverty,” he added.
Suraj said the SAARC CCI leadership committed to carrying out its six-point agenda for an integrated, progressive and prosperous South Asia. The areas of focus include attracting intra-regional investment, industrialization of South Asia via embodying SAARC Investment Parks, nourishing and nurturing the small and medium enterprises and to mentor upcoming entrepreneurs across the region. But for this, the South Asian leaders have to go above whatever they are still thinking about SAARC. They have to keep in mind that they are the leaders of some of the poorest countries in the world and try to lift the region from its cycle of poverty as SAARC could still be said to be a “bird getting wings to fly” and is yet to come to grips with the warp and woof of regional cooperation for attaining institutionalized cooperation among South Asian countries.
Suraj Vaidya said that Pakistan government has always been supportive to help achieving the goals of SAARC Chamber and lauded the services of VP SAARC Chamber Pak chapter Iftikhar Ali Malik for rendering meritorious services and arranging result-oriented fruitful meetings with Federal Commerce and Textile Minister Muhammad Pervaiz Malik and Deputy Chairman Planning Sartaz Aziz who assured full co-operation for the noble cause of the promotion of intra trade in the region.