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The Statesman

Published Date: Mar 27, 2012

SPEAKERS SAY S ASIA LEAST ECONOMICALLY INTEGRATED REGION

While sharing the findings of research study ‘Cost of economic non-cooperation to consumers in South Asia (COENCOSA)” the speakers lamented South Asia, despite being home to most of the world’s poor and conflict-ridden, is the least economically integrated region in the world which results into higher costs to consumers on account of costlier imports from outside the region.

The study reveals that, though Pakistan receives only 10.5 per cent of total gains, the lowest in region, it stands to save 59.04 percent on its current import expenditure on selected products. Among other factors, Pakistan’s least connectedness with other SA countries and also worsening energy situation hinder its progress on this front.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Shahid Fiaz, Director of Programs, The Asia Foundation and Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Research Fellow/Head, Economic Growth Unit, (SDPI) shared the findings of the study here during a media briefings and urged Pakistan and all South Asian countries to enhance the regional economic cooperation to facilitate the poor consumers of the region.

The study is jointly conducted by CUTS International in partnership with a group of like-minded organisations including Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) with the support of The Asia Foundation. The study assesses potential benefits of opening up trade between South Asian countries mainly Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka to consumers.

Dr Suleri was of view there exists a common ambiguity among masses on a number of issues including trade relations among South Asian countries. – PPI