SAARC CCI delegation Meeting with Confederation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry

The SAARC CCI delegation led by Mr. Ismail Asif, President, SAARC CCI visited Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Delhi on 4th August 2014 to meet its President Mr. Ajay S. Shriram. In addition to President, the SAARC CCI delegation included Mr. Annisul Huq, Former President, Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik, Vice President (Pakistan) and Mr. Iqbal Tabish, Secretary General of SAARC CCI who met Mr. Ajay S. Shriram, President and Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII and discussed possible scope of cooperation between SAARC CCI and CII. This was the first ever visit of President SCCI after accession to this regional organisation, representing private sector of South Asia.

Mr. Ismail Asif, President, SAARC CCI (second from Left) at occasion of Meeting with CII held on 4th August
2014at New Delhi, India. Other from (L-R) Mr. Muhammad Iqbal Tabish, Secretary General, Mr. Iftikhar Ali
Malik, Vice President, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and industry (Pakistan Chapter), Mr. Ajay S Shriram,
President, CII, Mr. Annisul Huq, Former President, SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry
and Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.

During the meeting it was revealed that the role of Confederation of Indian Industry should be enhanced to further promote economic cooperation in South Asia. Both sides agreed to work closely on Energy Sector, Environment and Transport sectors. They regarded B2B meeting as regular features of SAARC CCI activities in the region. Mr. Ajay S. Shriram offered active role of CII to further image building of SAARC CCI.

Mr. Ismail Asif, President SAARC CCI pointed out that intra-regional trade figures for South Asian are disappointing as trade in the region constitutes only 1.4 per cent of the total world’s imports and 1.2 per cent of exports, whereas merchandise trade is only 27.9 per cent of GDP, the lowest in the world. He added that the World development indicators have revealed South Asia houses 1.4 billion people, representing a large workforce, tremendous business and investment opportunities.

He stressed the need to address all the issues being confronted by importers and exporters of either country on top priority as this would save precious foreign exchange by saving the transport cost of approximately $400 to $900 million.

Mr. Annisul Huq, Former President, SAARC CCI said that availability of level playing field for SAARC countries was one of the major challenges, while India had been gradually reducing its tariff over the last two decades, and the tariff regime was still complex. He urged upon the SAARC member nation cooperation on energy & mass transit system to promote bilateral trade among all member countries for the overall betterment and welfare of the people of the region.

Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik, Vice President, SAARC CCI while sharing his views, asserted for strengthening regional cooperation through meaningful and forward looking relationship between India and Pakistan adding that granting of MNF status by Pakistan to India and ensuring level playing field from India by removing non-tariff barriers and country specific para-tariff barriers would be in best interest of both countries. He proposed cooperation in areas of services including tourism, medical services, banking and finance to improve cross border trade and investment and asked CCI for its role to eliminate barriers hindering trade-related services, direct banking channels, direct shipping lines, delay in issuance of multiple visa, inspection and clearance procedures and cargo handling facilities.

During the meeting CII offered to arrange meetings of SAARC CCI with Ministers of External Affairs and Commerce, India in the near future and assured every possible cooperation to carry out joint activities in important areas like power and energy sector, and investment convention on South Asia in near future.

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