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Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui

Business Recorder

Published Date: Dec 7, 2015

Speakers for enhancing regional connectivity to promote trade in SA

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a conference called for enhancing regional connectivity to promote trade and business for prosperity and poverty alleviation in South Asia.
The speakers said the countries in the region are least connected with each other therefore the overall volume of inter-state trade of the region is the lowest as compared to other regions.
They said the inter-state trade volume in South Asian countries accounts for only 6 percent while this volume in Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) countries is around 25 percent.
They attributed the issue of less development of the region to lack of trust, cooperation, lack of interest in implementing the agreements and high cost of doing business among the regional countries.
Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal said the regional countries lack political will to strengthen regional cooperation and connectivity therefore there people to people contact is limited.
The 4-day eighth South Asia Economic Summit titled “Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development in South Asia” was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in which a number of delegates from across the South Asian countries participated.
Ahsan Iqbal said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shown strong commitment for ensuring regional connectivity as it is the key point of the government’s foreign policy.
He said the government has taken a number of initiatives in this regard including Central Asia, South Asia electricity transmission project (CASA-1000), Turkeministan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India Pipeling (TAPI) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The minister said there are serious barriers in terms of people mobility in the region and “we need to have liberal visa regime in order to enhance people to people contact in the region to increase trade and business activities”.
He said one of the seven pillars of the government’s Vision 2025 is to construct modern infrastructure for regional connectivity.
Regarding bilateral relations between Pakistan and India, he hoped that after a bring meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in Paris, the ice will start melting and the things will get better.
He said the Security Advisor level talks on both side in Bangkok would also yield positive results.
He said CPEC is not a bilateral project but it can be called regional and even global project which would benefit all the regional countries.
Earlier in his welcome address, Dr Abid Q. Suleri, Executive Director SDPI stressed the need for enhancing regional cooperation for achieving sustainable development goals.
Dr Miftah Ismail, Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) said Pakistan is committed to promote regional cooperation and connectivity.
He said Pakistan is also giving highest priority to the regional projects including TAPI, CASA-1000 and CPEC.
Dr Rajan Bhattari, member Constituent Assembly, Nepal said unfortunately the level of cooperation between the SAARC countries and urged to boost it by fully implementing the various agreements made in this regard.
Senior Vice President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Surag Vaida said the region has huge potential, huge market and a brilliant brain then what is the reason this region has been the least developed in the world.
He said the cost of doing business between the regional countries is far higher as compared to the doing business with other regions including Europe and United States.
He said “by keeping aside all the disputes, we should work together for future of over one billion people of the region”.Source: http://www.brecorder.com/home/br-pages/shaheed-benazir-bhutto/assassination/266561-speakers-for-enhancing-regional-connectivity-to-promote-trade-in-sa.html