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December 6, 2017



SAARC Business Leaders Conclave next year

LAHORE: SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) will organise the 6th mega edition of SAARC Business Leaders Conclave (SBLC) on March 16 next year in Kathmandu, Nepal, a statement said on Tuesday.
During a meeting with SAARC Chamber Pakistan chapter Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik, SAARC CCI President Suraj Vaidya said the chamber will hold the SBLC in collaboration with the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
He highlighted the importance of trade in the region, and said chambers from all South Asian member countries would participate in the event.
Suraj said the theme of this year’s conference is Unleashing Shared Prosperity through Economic Integration. The Nepalese prime minister will inaugurate the three-day event, while the 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 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,” he 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 growth potential enormous. He underlined the need of opening markets and lowering trade and investment barriers, especially to regional partners.
The SAARC members should also improve economic freedom with a deliberate focus on strengthening rule of law, eradicating endemic corruption, and reducing bureaucratic regulations that harm businesses and investors.
The SAARC CCI president further said despite proximity

advantages, South Asian economies focused more on trade with distant economic regions, such as the European Union, rather than on their neighbours.
Intra-regional trade remains less than five 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,” 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, he added.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said, “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 neighbouring 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.
The 6th SBLC 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.