Economic integration imperative for South Asia’s prosperity: SAARC

ISLAMABAD: SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Ruwan Edirisinghe said on Saturday said South Asia has tremendous trade potential, which needs to be tapped for greater economic integration.

During a meeting with a delegation of prominent trade leaders, led by SAARC CCI Senior Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik, Ruwan Edirisinghe stressed that core trade issues should be addressed and Pakistan’s role in this regard would be vital as prosperity was not possible without restoration of peace in the region.

Since its inception, the SAARC chamber has facilitated regional cooperation in various areas for the welfare of people of South Asia, he stated, adding that SAARC should be more active in the redressal of major challenges faced by the region, including poverty and unemployment.

“The SAARC CCI has taken initiatives to reinforce a common South Asian identity given by 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,” he remarked.

The SAARC chamber has been proactively advocating stronger commercial and economic relations for a prosperous and integrated South Asia, he added.

Ruwan Edirisinghe said the chamber has played an integral role in providing an institutional framework to promote economic and regional cooperation in South Asia, adding that initiatives may be initiated to utilise the potential of cooperation in the areas of tourism and energy.

“In order to ensure trade facilitation in the region, the problems regarding SAARC visa sticker, removal of trade barriers, acceptance of standard certificate, limitations of infrastructure in the land ports etc. should be addressed,” he recommended.

Iftikhar Ali Malik, on the occasion, appreciated the efforts of SAARC CCI President Ruwan Edirisinghe and termed his role critical for the restoration of peace and prosperity in the region.

He said Pakistan always strives to make SAARC an important vehicle for regional cooperation and has always remained committed to SAARC objectives.

Malik said he was optimistic that all the SAARC member states under Ruwan’s leadership would resolve their trade-related issues. “Over the next 10 years, countries in the Asian region would become an important player in the global trade,” he added.

He also assured the chamber’s president of Pakistan’s complete support in making SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry a successful entity in the region.

“We will have to autonomously develop an agenda for South Asian cooperation, driven broadly by economic concerns,” he remarked, emphasising on restructuring the production and export processes in order to improve transboundary trade in South Asia.

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