LAHORE: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Chamber President Suraj Vaidya reiterated on Tuesday his pledge to take concrete and result-oriented steps for greater economic integration between member countries.
This will be done by exploiting all indigenous natural resources for the progress, prosperity, development and welfare of the people and to do away with abject poverty in South Asia, he added.
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According to a statement, Vaidya, presiding over the Saarc Chamber’s 72nd Executive Committee and 22nd General Assembly meetings of the Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that in an increasingly developed world, the objectives of peace, freedom, social justice and economic prosperity are achieved by fostering mutual understanding, good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation among member states.
“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 Vaidya.
He further stated that Saarc should adopt a global approach and should focus on a wide range of activities like poverty alleviation, improvement of the health sector, trade and commerce in the region.
He said that South Asia comprises three percent of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$ 2.9 trillion) of the global economy. “The respective governments are trying to give their people a higher quality of life despite being racked by high illiteracy, dismal healthcare and poor sanitation,” Vaidya said.
He remarked that initiatives may be taken to utilise the potential of cooperation in 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 in the land ports, etc should be removed.
He said that leading business companies of all eight countries feel that closer collaboration is integral for regional integration and 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.
On this occasion, Saarc Chamber Pakistan Chapter Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik underscored that unless strong commitment was shown by all nations in the region towards respecting and honouring sovereign equality, Saarc’s progress will keep getting hampered.
He said Saarc should adopt a global approach and should focus on a wide range of activities like poverty alleviation, improvement of the health sector, trade and commerce in the region.
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“It is imperative that India and Pakistan being the biggest economies solve their bilateral issues,” he added. He said Saarc needs to expand its vision and be more inclusive and open to establish new linkages with interactions among private and informal sectors being important.
He also said that the first challenge South Asia faces is apprehending the volatile global order. Bringing to the fore a novel concept, technocracy he said, can be argued to be a viable model in resolving the issues besetting the region as liberal democracy has proven to be a model that does not deliver efficient results.
Asia could drift towards a technocracy - a model operated by technical experts and expert government servants which delivers quick results, Malik claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2018.
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