President SAARC Chamber, RuwanEdirisinghe says it is the top priority of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCI) agenda that all due efforts would be initiated to forge good relations with all SAARC member states and for this, we have to commit to and accelerate our efforts towards forging closer bilateral and regional partnerships and economic integration with in the subcontinent and beyond.
He was speaking at a 3-day meeting of Senior Vice President and all Vice Presidents from SAARC member countries to chalk out strategies to materialize its vision 2030 for the common betterment of the people of South Asia. The agenda of the meeting is 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, the proposal of harmonization of customs procedures and documentations in the region to facilitate movement of goods across the borders are also under discussion.
Despite challenges, he said, SAARC region holds immense trade and investment potential and to actualize that potential special focus and effort is required for regional integration. He said SAARC member countries must focus on removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and must work for enhancing B2B interaction to boost trade. 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 regioncan progress and bring economic prosperity and social uplift for our generations. He highlighted that SAARC region holds immense trade and investment potential, being home to 21 percent of world’s population. 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. They also discussed 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.
SAARC CCI Vice President said due to lack of physical infrastructure to unleash the economic potential of the region, SAARCCCI had also identified some projects of energy, connectivity, and taking advantage of value addition in information technology sector.
Pakistan is committed 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.
President of South Asians Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce & Industry –the apex body of SAARC Countries (Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and taking over the presidency of SAARC CCI from March 2018 up to March 2020. President of Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sri Lanka (FCCISL), and taking over Presidency of FCCISL from 23rd February 2018 to February 2020.
Chairman of Ceylon National Chamber of Industries Sri Lanka (CNCI).
Management Committee Member of Chamber of Young Lanka Entrepreneurs, (COYLE). Council Member of Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Corporate member of Chamber of Construction Industries of Sri Lanka (CCI). Committee Member of Engineering and Architectural Council of University Grants Commission (UGC) of Higher Education Ministry of Sri Lanka.
Contributed by Aqsa Ahmad Gondal
The writer is Staff Reporter at ‘Mélange Int’l Magazine’ & ‘ The Asian Telegraph’.