RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) organized Virtual Saarc Trade Forum on Wednesday to make the business community aware of trade and export opportunities in South Asian countries.

The forum was attended by RCCI President Mohammad Nasir Mirza, President Pak-Afghan Chamber Zubair Motiwala, Trade and Investment Attachés of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan also participated in the workshop.

RCCI President Nasir Mirza in his welcome address said the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) was founded with the aim to promote socio-economic development within the member states but unfortunately the member countries could not materialized the true potential of this forum.

The Saarc region with its significant economic power, vast natural resources, and dynamic workforce, has a huge development potential which needs exploration in the better interest of all member nations, he added.

He said regional cooperation had the potential to produce significant gains across all countries of South Asia. Intraregional trade now stands at just one-third of its potential with $23 billion annually.

Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PAJCCI) Chairman Zubair Motiwala acknowledged initiatives of RCCI for organising the Saarc trade forum and raising the voice of the business community with respect to regional trade.

He said Saarc should not be played in the hands of one country and the member countries should synergize their efforts for promoting trade ties excluding India.

Dhaka Commercial Secretary Salman Khan said that there is a huge potential to increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and Bangladesh, adding that business visas relaxation, tariff barriers and flight issues had been raised at the government levels.

Sri Lankan Trade and Investment Attaché Ms Assma Kamal said during the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Sri Lanka the two countries had agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations in diverse areas, including trade and tourism through enhanced connectivity.

The Saarc comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2021

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