Published Date: Apr 15, 2016
SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) and SustainableDevelopment Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Friday signed a Memorandum ofUnderstanding (MoU) on joint research activities as well as outreach andcapacity building programmes.
According to theMoU, SAARC CCI and SDPI would be collaborating and cooperating with each otherin research, joint research proposals, activities, and publications to sharedata and other research resources. Capacity building, including trainingcourses is also the part of the MoU. Seminars, workshops, and conferences wouldbe jointly held as part of the outreach activities. Sustainable qualityassurance monitoring and evaluation framework would be designed. Outreach andnetworking programme, projects and activities as may be jointly agreed by boththe parties, would also be initiated under the MoU.
SDPI ExecutiveDirector Dr. Abid Q. Suleri, while appreciating the visit of Suraj Vadiya, thePresident of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that his visit toIslamabad and SDPI is very timely, as the 19th SAARC summit is likely to held in Islamabad this year. He said those who believe in regionalconnectivity and are not the part of Track I, must work on it before the 19thSAARC Summit. SAARC is a gateway to South Asia as well as Central Asia, hesaid.
Dr Sulerisaid the trade taking place in SAARC is due to personal initiatives and risks,as environment in SAARC countries is slightly non-conducive for trade.
“Regional countries should learn from Nepal and Sri Lanka. Their visa regime ismuch better than rest of the regional countries. They are smaller economies andare less populous. Nepal, and Sri Lanka have open visa policy, we need to learnfrom them.”
Dr Suleri further said: “We are at the crossroads not only because of Chinese,American, Russian and other initiatives, but also after lifting of sanctionfrom Iran, and comparatively better environment in Afghanistan, which hasprovided new markets to us.” “If I look at the social sector side, theSAARC countries are committed to the SDGs as much as any other responsiblenation of the world,” he added. The most daunting goal for South Asia,which has maximum number of poor people, is to alleviate poverty in all forms.It’s not only economic poverty but also the poverty of choice, poverty ofopportunity, poverty of ideas, and poverty of policy. The private sector hastremendous role to play in this regard, he emphasized.
Suraj Vaidya,President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the fundamentalproblem with South Asia is that its conferences are overshadowed by politics.Referring to the 18th SAARC Summit, he said the only angle that mediaemphasized was whether Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi would shake hand. “Theentire discussion revolved around it. And that’s what the people understood.“If it is the case then forget rest of all,” he said.
He said: “Fromcitizens’ perspective, our issues are much bigger than issues in politics. Wehave been involved in petty politics for too long.” He recalled that not even asingle summit passed without promises made by the head of states abouteradication of poverty, improvement in connectivity and related stuff, but noneof them have materialized ever.
He said South Asia’s problem is that it is a fragmented society. The wayprivate, public, civil society sectors work is segmented. He stressed the needfor collaboration on at least what is doable, be at in small percentage.
He said “We needto increase our partnership, and cooperation. SDPI is an institute of reputeand tremendous knowledge in the area. Therefore, this partnership would take usmuch further.” He said, there is a need to build partnership with universitiesas well. In this regard, SAARC CCI would make partnership with LUMS.
SDPI DeputyExecutive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said: “Working with the commerce ministry, wehave found them open to advice when it comes to integration with central Asiaand south Asia. They are keenly looking into those specific entry points whichthis government can do before 2018.”