SAARC Chamber President lauds Pakistan initiative to tap $170 billion trade market
ISLAMABAD - SAARC Chamber President Ruwan Edirisinghe Friday said the state-of-the-art 10-storey new building of chamber headquarters in Islamabad would be a platform for business communities for coming together and discussing the prospects of doing business together besides inculcating the spirit of trust with its neighbours, showing solidarity and forging with them a habit of cooperation.
Talking to media persons prior to his departure to Sri Lanka at the conclusion of his two-day visit to Pakistan, he said he was much sanguine about the future of the SAARC chamber and said, “We will have to underwrite the creation of regional public goods for South Asians to integrate sitting here from chamber’s permanent headquarters,” says a press release issued here Friday.
“We can utilize this capacious building for launching pad of optimal utilization of the region’s natural resources, building regional infrastructure, creating connectivity within the region and with the world, with energy grids, cross-border transport networks, coastal shipping, air links, roads, railways and waterways, besides flood and other natural disaster mitigation and prevention measures”, he said.
Ruwan Edirisinghe highlighted that although SAARC region holds immense trade and investment potential, being home to 21% of world’s population, it still remains one of the least integrated regional blocs with intra-regional trade constituting only 5% of the total world trade, in comparison to 51% for The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and 25% for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
He said SAARC member countries must focus on removal of non-tariff barriers and must work for enhancing B2B interaction to boost trade.
Chairman Building Committee SAARC CCI Senior Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik on the occasion said SAARC CCI building was almost completed and only finishing work was underway under the supervision of high profile internationally accredited architects and designers.
He said the government of Pakistan and magnates have contributed 90 per cent of the total of the cost of this project.
He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to regional cooperation under the umbrella of SAARC for promoting welfare of the people of South Asia, improving their quality of life, economic progress, social uplift and cultural cooperation.
Iftikhar Malik said social-political dialogues among the member states were indispensable for unleashing socioeconomic potential of South Asia.
The government and private sector should join hands for integration of the region. If all tangible steps were taken, only furniture market in the region would reach a colossal figure of $5.4 billion by 2020.
“Remedial measures may push the regional trade to as high as $170 billion within two years,” he concluded.
Zubair Ahmad Malik SAARC Chamber Adviser, Malik Sohail Hussain, Chairman Co-ordination Committee UBG, Zulfiqar Ali Butt Deputy Secretary General SAARC Chamber, Ms Fatima Anwar, Associate Director Communication and a team of renowned architects and builders were also present on the occasion.