Regional grouping: Visa-on-arrival facility proposed for SAARC

Measures to boost trade in the region discussed

APP August 05, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry demanded visa-on-arrival facility in Saarc countries to boost socio-economic prosperity in South Asia.

“Free movement of business persons in the region is crucial and multiple-entry visa policy must be adopted on a reciprocal basis,” Saarc CCI Pakistan delegation leader Iftikhar Ali Malik said as he addressed the concluding session of a special meeting of SCCI.

He said that in prevailing global economic scenario, India and Pakistan, the two most powerful members of Saarc, should enter a suitable trade regime. “Time has changed the concept of economic prosperity and member countries have taken the lead. Saarc countries badly need to work together with a shared vision and stronger linkage to eliminate poverty and bring self-reliance and prosperity to the region. We need to fully exploit the indigenous natural resources and untapped mineral deposits, to strengthen economic conditions on the pattern of trade blocs like Nafta, EU, Asean and COMESA. “

He said that it was the need of the hour that all eight nations in South Asia must work to meet common challenges, especially those which threaten security, peaceful co-existence and progress.

Saarc is home to more than one-fifth of the world population, making it the largest entity. The region comprises 45% of young population and possesses 12% of the global natural resources and untapped resources.

Talking over the unique characteristics each country has, he said India was the fourth largest economy, Pakistan was a hub of textiles, Bangladesh was the centre of the garments industry, while Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka were emerging destinations of tourists from all over the world.

It is unfortunate that the world development indicators present a bleak picture of the region on global economic fronts despite having enormous potential. The contribution of Saarc countries in global GDP is less than 2 % and its share in exports is only 1.5 %, which does not reflect the potential, Malik added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.

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Indian Observer | 9 years ago | Reply

@Karachi Mirchi: There are many things that happen in Europe that could - and should - be replicated in South Asia, but alas (unlike in Europe) there is the element of extremist Islam that creeps into relations. Terrorist attacks engineered in - and by - Pakistan have driven the final nail in the coffin of bilateral and regional relations. I can put my hand in fire and bet that 99% of Indians would not like to give a visa-on-arrival facility for Pakistani nations. Indian politicians cannot afford to ignore public opinion in democratic India. The memory of the 2008 Mumbai carnage is still fresh- what is frustrating is that the perpetrators - the real killers - run scot-free in a country that has become a lawless society, where the power of the gun (and not law) reigns supreme. Until that changes, I do not think much will change. But if trade is indeed on your priority list, as some Pakistanis profess but many Indians doubt, then you will take a small step by reciprocating India's gesture of giving Pakistan the MFN status. India gave this status to Pakistan more than a decade back. Would you not say it is time for Pakistan to respond in kind? This is a small step, I know, but like the saying goes, the long distance becomes easy to reach by taking the first small step.

ModiFied | 9 years ago | Reply

Renounce Jihad and everything will fall in place. Who will give VISA on arrival to the followers of Zaid Hamid and Hafiz Saeed ? Even bearded cricket players of Pakistani origin look scary on fields.

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