The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry is planning to propose a South Asian Clearing mechanism to make it easier for South Asian entrepreneurs to trade in the local currency, which could also boost intra-regional trade.
"The SAARC Chamber that will hold a finance ministers meet in New Delhi on May 3, is going to propose the South Asian Clearing mechanism," said president of SAARC Chamber Vikramjit Singh Sahney, who is currently in Kathmandu to take part in the SAARC Chamber meeting.
SAARC Chamber will also organise a SAARC Trade Fair, besides the SAARC Economic Summit that is planned for October, to integrate South Asia economically, he added.
Though the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) came into operation in 2006, it has not been able to boost intra–regional trade as intra-regional trade in South Asia still stands at around five per cent.
Only economic integration can help the region prosper unitedly and boost intra-regional trade, Sahney said, adding that the SAARC Chamber has been trying to integrate the region with various business-to business programmes like business leaders conclave, CEO's forum and lobbying for business people to be part of the SAARC Political Forum, as only an integrated regional approach can bring peace and prosperity in South Asia, he said. "The voice of the business people in SAARC is key to help push SAARC integration as a regional body."
Business people from respective countries can make their governments listen to their agenda, which is a peaceful and prosperous region, opined Sahney, who is also the corporate president of Sun International and a well known leading Indian business figure, educationist and social worker. "Economic integration can also help mend political relations."
India alone cannot grow rich in the region without its neighbours following its footstep, he added.
SAARC Chamber — as a regional body of the private sector — has been facilitating free movement of goods and people, apart from helping them network with each other, said Sahney, who has been conferred with the honour of Padma Shri by the President of India Pratibha Patil and International Peace Award by the President of Mauritius Sir Anerood Jugnauth in New Delhi.
"Free movement of people and goods will not only promote intra-regional trade but also help integrate the region," he said, adding that after the SAARC Chamber's repeated attempts, currently each member country has started issuing 200 visa stickers for three months for business people. "However, it is not enough for entrepreneurs," he added.
Likewise, key bilateral and multilateral areas of a particular country could be developed in coordination with others under a brand 'SAARC' for mutual benefit, he said, adding that the brand 'SAARC' has to be promoted by involving the regional chambers in investment in flagship programmes and projects. "The regional body of the private sector has also asked the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) to help it invest in hydropower as energy is key to growth in South Asia."
SAARC Chamber has been instrumental in increased connectivity among regional members, according to him, who opined that harmonisation of customs, reducing the duty to zero and non-tariff barriers, making the negative list shorter and increased business-to-business meetings among entrepreneurs of the region, coupled with a B2B SAARC Portal are some of the key achievements of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Likewise, it has also been working on Bonded Warehouse at strategic points at the Indo-Nepal border, where business people can come and buy produces, said Sahney, who is also an advisor to Foskor, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa.
Jyoti SAARC YEF chair
KATHMANDU: Saurabh Jyoti has been handed over the chair of Young Entrepreneurs Forum (YEF) under the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kathmandu on Sunday. The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry that has been meeting in Kathmandu since yesterday has been brainstorming on its future course too. The torchbearer of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, YEF has to carry the baton of the regional spirit of economic integration forward, according to president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vikramjit Singh Sahney.