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ISLAMABAD, March 1: The Managing Director of Lahore Stock Exchange, Aftab Ahmad Chaudhry, has emphasised the need for increased cross-border financial activities within the South Asian region to create strong intraregional links and an integrated economic region.

Speaking at a news conference here on Friday, the LSE official said that multiple success stories of cross-border linkages of exchanges in European Union, North America and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been witnessed.

USAID under its small grants programme is funding a plan on developing a harmonised regulatory framework which would serve as a first step towards building a financially integrated South Asian region.

The South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE), funded by USAID, is working on the agenda of regional financial integration within South Asia.

SAFE Project Manager Bushra Tahir while explaining the project details said that the main focus of the project was to build relations with industry working groups.

The project, “Regional Financial Integration – Developing a Harmonised Regulatory Framework for the Capital Markets in Pakistan and South Asia,” has been developed under the specific needs identified by Saarc Secretariat, she said.

The project would help develop harmonised market regulations for capital markets; and standardize self regulatory framework for management and operations of markets in the region.

It would enhance market integrity and investor confidence; introduce consistent and common reporting standards; improve governance and transparency norms for the listed sector; facilitate easy capital raising on regional basis and the promotion of cross-border listings; deepen and broaden region’s securities markets; assist in, relatively, free movement of capital and portfolio investments; and promote greater integration of the South Asian capital and financial markets.

USAID Pakistan believes that SAFE project would serve as a landmark initiative to achieve economic growth, not only in Pakistan, but all across the South Asian region.