RE (APP) - SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) can play a pivotal role in deepening and widening economic and regional co-operation with special focus on stamping out the ever increasing menace of terror in the region.
It was stated on Sunday by leader of Pak delegation, Vice President SCCI, Pak chapter and veteran trade leader Iftikhar Ali Malik currently visiting India on 5-day tour while talking to his Indian counterpart Vikramjit Singh Sahney at New Delhi.
He said that SCCI has fully supported the government-industry partnership and remained engaged in dialogue with governments of the SAARC region. He said that successful SAARC conference held Islamabad recently was a one good step towards normalization of relations between the two nuclear states.
He stressed an urgent need for promotion regional and economic cooperation in South Asia,however, political tensions and development constraints that the region has faced over the years played a decelerating role in economic integration of South Asia.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said that if all SAARC member countries pool and harness their indigenous resources, it will definitely help improve socio economic conditions and welfare of their respective people.
The intra-regional trade figures for South Asian are disappointing as trade in the region constitutes only 1.4 per cent of the total world imports and 1.2 per cent of exports, whereas merchandise trade is only 27.9 per cent of GDP,the lowest in the world.
Iftikhar said that World Development Indicators have revealed South Asia houses 1.4 billion world's population thus representing a large workforce, tremendous business and investment opportunities.
Although South Asia has significantly reduced import tariffs, the cost of trading across its borders is one of the highest in the world. A number of non-tariff barriers have been identified which hamper trade and increase cost.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said that SCCI, an apex organisation of SAARC and a representative of the private sector has worked to create awareness about regional integration through various activities in the region and beyond.
He said SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) must also be made more effective to revive economic cooperation for free trade in the region.
He said all out efforts will be made that SAFTA could help build confidence among the business communities of Pakistan and India. He concluded that all out efforts would be made to accelerate the process of economic and social development in South Asian countries.