ISLAMABAD: Government on Wednesday called for special focus and efforts for regional integration and removal of non-tariff barriers to actualise the immense trade and investment potential present between the SAARC member states.
“SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) has fallen short of expectations due to complex safeguard measures and non-tariff barriers among SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) member countries,” Secretary for Commerce Younus Dagha said during a meeting with Suraj Vaidya, president of SAARC chamber of commerce and industry (CCI).
Dagha said establishment of SAARC CCI has provided a platform to the business communities of region for coming together and discussing the prospects of doing business together. “Although SAARC region holds immense trade and investment potential, being home to 21 percent of world’s population, it still remains one of the least integrated regional blocs with intra-regional trade constituting only 5 percent of the total world trade, in comparison to 51 percent for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and 25 percent for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” he said in a statement.
Secretary commerce commended the efforts of the SAARC CCI for arranging the activities like SAARC business conclave and an exhibition on the sidelines of every SAARC summit. “These activities are good for bringing business community together and promoting regional trade.”
Vaidya updated Dagha on the progress made on the permanent headquarters building project at Islamabad and expressed gratitude for releasing of funds for the building. “It will help in strengthening the capacity-building of the institution and state-of-art building of SAARC-CCI headquarters in Pakistan will help in image building of the country,” he said.
Dagha said ministry of commerce would support the SAARC CCI in achieving its objectives. He hoped that SAARC CCI would continue to create business-friendly environment that helps businesses to succeed.