It was the prospect of being left behind in the global economic arena that initially brought the representatives of national Federations of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the SAARC countries together at the second meeting of chambers of Commerce & Industry of the developing countries (G-77) in New Delhi in December 1988. A memorandum of understanding was signed among these representatives expressing their intention and desire to establish the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of SAARC countries for the promotion of trade and industry in the SAARC region and to develop and achieve common objectives in these areas. The memorandum of understanding was the precursor to the current SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Established in 1985, SAARC had hitherto avoided including core economic issues in its programme, but in the wake of the desire for a SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the SAARC Secretariat commissioned a study on Trade, Manufactures and Services in 1988. The study was completed in 1991 and strongly supported to establish a SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry to bring about improvement in the business environment disseminate information about potential tradable goods and identify joint ventures in the SAARC region.
Pursuant to the directive of the SAARC Secretariat, SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry, assisted by the National Federations, submitted its draft constitution to the SAARC Secretariat and received its approval in December 1992. This signified the official recognition of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) by all the national governments of SAARC as the apex body of all the National Federations of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of SAARC as follows:
- Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry( ACCI)
- Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI)
- Bhutan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI)
- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)
- Maldives National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MNCCI)
- Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FNCCI)
- Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI)
- Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL)
Management & Operations:
In October 1993, Mr. S.M Inam from Pakistan was elected as the president of the SCCI. In Feb 1994, SCCI was formally inaugurated in Dhaka by the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Since its establishment, the Presidency of SAARC CCI has been enjoyed by all seven founder members. Mr. Salman F Rahman of Bangladesh, Mr. Kantikumar R Podar of India, Mr. Qasim Ibrahim of Maldives, Mr. Padma Jyoti of Nepal, Mr. Macky Hashim from Sri Lanka and Dasho Ugen Tshechup Dorji from Bhutan have so far been the President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Presidency of SAARC CCI rotates amongst the member countries for a two-year term and after completing its circle, the Presidency has been once again handed over to Bangladesh. Mr. Annisul Huq, a former President of FBCCI is the incumbent President who has assumed the office since Jan18, 2010.
The SAARC Chamber shall comprise the following organs:
a. The General Assembly (also to be known as GA)
b. The Executive Committee (also to be known as EC)
c. The General Secretariat
The objectives of the "SAARC Chamber" are:
- To encourage Trade, Service, Industry, Small & Medium Enterprise, Agriculture, Intra-Regional through creating strong business linkages amongst the entrepreneurs of the region of South Asia
- To make recommendations to safeguard the economic and business interests of the SAARC
- To serve as a consultative body of the Private Sector of the region to provide input/ feed back on regional economic issues
- To encourage Member Countries to accord preferential terms of trade to each other and finally strive towards the gradual realization of the SAARC Economic and Monetary Union.
- To promote the exchange of commercial, technical, industrial management and scientific information, education and know-how amongst its members
- To collate, collect and disseminate statistical data and joint research and development among the SAARC Member Countries.
The thrust areas for the SAARC CCI can be divided in to five major areas:
- Awareness building on key economic issues i.e. trade facilitation, NTBs, TBTs, Harmonization of Customs Procedures, intra-regional investment and such others pertaining to promote economic cooperation at the regional level
- Develop global linkages as a part of its outreach strategy
- Provide services to its members and representatives of the private sector
- Work closely with governments, NGOs, CSOs to raise the concern on socio-economic issues
- Develop an institutional framework for supporting economic cooperation