A Session with SAARC Council of Ministers SAARC CCI demands free movement of businessperson and goods across South Asia

16th March, 2016, Pokhara, Nepal
On the occasion of the 37th session of the Council of SAARC Minister held at Pokhara, SAARC CCI delegation led by Mr. Suraj Vaidya, President SAARC CCI had a brief session with Hon’ble Finance Ministers of all member states. The meeting was facilitated by Hon’ ble Kamal Thapa of Nepal, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for foreign Affairs, Nepal on the request of President SAARC CCI.

Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Nepal introduced SAARC CCI delegation to his counterparts and congratulated Mr. Vaidya on assuming office of the President of SAARC CCI and invited him to share views on behalf of the private sector of South Asia.

President SAARC CCI briefly reported the activities of the oganisation in the year 2015 and shared action plan for the year 2016 which included setting up of sub-regional offices at Mumbai, Dhaka and Sri Lanka to assist SAARC CCI Headquarters at Islamabad, establishment of SAARC Industrial Parks, Launching of CEO Forum and Smart Green Economic villages and close working with SAARC Development Fund to promote green SMEs.

Taking advantage of the presence of Foreign Ministers from South Asia countries, President SAARC CCI put forth few suggestions to promote intra-SAARC trade and investment, which include as follows:

  • To consider signing of SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement and Railway Agreement in next SAARC Summit scheduled in Pakistan and to ensure its implementation in phased-manner. This will help brining down cost of doing business in South Asia and create supply and regional value chains.
  • To allow private sectors’ representation through SAARC CCI in economic and development related Working Groups/ Eminent Persons for effective involvement in policy-making process.
  • SAARC CCI also be allowed to present view point of the private Sector at Ministerial and Summit level.
  •  Services contribute more than 50% of all economies of SAARC member states. There is need to consider implementation of South Asian Agreement on Trade in services (SATIS)  and creation of free trade areas under SAFTA vision by end of 2016.
  •  Investment be allowed through direct channels while Governments can guarantee to protect investment therefore signing of SAARC double taxation and Investment Treaty has become quite essential in order to encourage and promote cross border and beyond border trade and investment in SAARC.
  • Eradicating poverty is joint mission of the Government and the Private sector, for which leaders have been pledged in every Summit. Unfortunately, the movement of the Private, which has the potential to create jobs and eradicate poverty, has been restricted. This potential has become hostage by 0.01% unwanted elements that hold the states by fear and terror. Therefore we urge Councils of Ministers to allow free movement of businessperson by allowing them SAARC Visa Exemption Sticker with one-year validity, on recommendation of SAARC CCI.

The Hon’ble Foreign Ministers assured their full support for consideration of SAARC CCI proposal.
Foreign ministers in presence included Mr. Kamal Thapa of Nepal, Ms. Sushma Swaraj of India, Ms. Dunya Maumoon of the Maldives, Mr. Mangala Pinsiri Samaraweera of Sri Lanka, Mr. Abadul Ahsan Mohammad Ali of Bangladesh, Mr. Damcho Dorji of Bhutan, Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai and Foreign Affairs Adviser Mr. Sartaj Aziz at Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs were present during the meeting.

In addition to President, SAARC CCI, Mr. Om Bahadur Rajbhandary, Vice President, (Nepal), Mr. Zubair A. Malik, EC Member, Mr. Hameed Akhter Chadda, EC Members ( Pakistan), Mrs. Phub Zam, EC Member, Mr........ GA member (Bhutan) Mr. Iqbal Tabish, Secretary General, Mr. Ajith Perera (Sri Lanka),  Mr. Goutam Ghosh and Mr. Ameet Kumar ( India) attended the session.

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