ISLAMABAD -SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry former president Iftikhar Ali Malik on Sunday said economic integration in South Asia holds immense potential to drive economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance regional cooperation, and contribute to peace and stability. Chairing a round table conference on “Economic Integration in South Asia”, he said economic integration attracts foreign direct investment (FDI), as it offers a more unified and attractive market for investors. “Increased FDI inflows bring capital, technology, and expertise, boosting productivity, employment, and economic growth in the region. Integration fosters cross-border infrastructure development, including transportation networks, power grids, and telecommunications systems. Improved infrastructure connectivity reduces transportation costs, enhances regional connectivity, and promotes trade and investment,” he added. Malik said that integration is of significant importance for the region’s development and overall well-being. He said it promotes trade facilitation by reducing trade barriers of tariffs, customs procedures, and non-tariff barriers. This enables the smooth flow of goods and services across borders, leading to increased trade volumes and economic growth, he added. Iftikhar Malik said Integrating economies create a larger market with increased purchasing power. This expanded market provides businesses with access to a broader consumer base, which encourages investment and stimulates economic activity. It allows businesses to exploit economies of scale and specialisation, enhancing productivity and competitiveness. He said integration facilitates the exchange of knowledge, technology, and best practices among countries as well as this transfer of knowledge promotes innovation, improves productivity, and helps countries upgrade their industries and enhance their competitiveness.