SAARC Chamber announces holding SBLC
ISLAMABAD: President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Suraj Vaidya here Tuesday announced to organize a high level 3-day 6th mega edition of SAARC Business leaders Conclave (SBLC) on March 16 next at Kathmandu, Nepal.
It was disclosed by him here Tuesday at a meeting with SAARC Chamber Pak chapter Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik. He said SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry will organize the conclave in which chambers from all South Asian member countries will participate besides highlighting the importance of trade in the region.
Unfolding the salient features of the enclave, Suraj said the theme of this year’s conference is “Unleashing Shared Prosperity through Economic Integration.” Prime Minister Nepal will inaugurate while ministerial round will have the participation of all the Commerce Ministers of SAARC member nations. Over 500 leading business leaders, eminent International experts and senior dignitaries from public and private sectors of SAARC member nations are expected to attend the business conclave and contribute to the economic development of the region. Highlighting the importance of the economic integration in South Asia, he said the urgency of the need for new policies to stimulate economic growth is all the more poignant because the region as a whole remains plagued by extreme poverty.
Suraj Vaidya said the geopolitical importance of South Asia, shared borders with Central Asia and the oil-rich Gulf, its natural resources, and its human capital make the region’s potential for growth enormous. He underlined the need of opening markets for each respective country of the SAARC chamber and lower barriers to trade and investment, especially to regional partners, while improving economic freedom with a deliberate focus on strengthening rule of law, eradicating endemic corruption, and reducing bureaucratic regulations that harm businesses and investors.
He further said despite their proximity advantages, however, South Asian economies tend to focus more of their trade on distant economic regions, such as the European Union, rather than on their neighbors. Intra-regional trade remains less than 5 percent. “This is dismal compared to other growing regions in the world, such as the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for which 25 percent of the trade is intra-regional” adding he said the growth in interregional and intraregional trade among emerging markets makes up one-fifth of the world’s total trade and is expected to surpass North–South trade flows by 2030.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said the regional dynamic today is skewed in such a way that the larger economies, India and Pakistan, are more likely to import from more distant countries than from the region. He said India and Pakistan import very little from the region, with India importing considerably more from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh than neighboring Pakistan, the second-largest economy in the region. “Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is scant, but not for the lack of trade potential.
He said therefore, the 6th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave is an opportunity where leading business leaders, politicians, opinion makers, prominent academicians, and Industry players, renowned and celebrated figures of South Asia, being the drivers of socio political change, can vocally advocate policies that promote such integration. “SAARC Business Leaders Conclave is truly the only podium that articulates and speaks the voice of the private sector to the public sector in the region,” he concluded.
Secretary General SAARC Chamber Hina Saeed and Deputy Secretary General Zulfiqar Ali Butt were also present on the occasion.