ICCI lauds energy agreement among SAARC member countries

  • November 28, 2014
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry has welcomed the signing of an agreement among Saarc member countries to allow the cross-border energy trade and termed it a positive development that would prove beneficial for the power-starved countries of the region including Pakistan. 
M. Shakeel Munir, Acting President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that South Asia was energy deficient region and enhancing energy cooperation among Saarc countries was a healthy move as it would allow power supply from surplus countries to deficient countries and contribute positively to promoting intra-regional trade as well. 
He said that rising energy crisis in South Asian countries have resulted into serious implications for their economies including slowing down of economic development, hurting industrial productivity, increasing inflation, deepening poverty and causing social instability in the region. Thus it was the need of the hour that South Asian countries should take initiatives to complement each other in energy supply.
He also stressed upon the SAARC countries to focus on enhancing regional integration as they have huge potential to promote intra-regional trade. He said many regional blocks strengthened economies and improved living standards of their people by promoting intra-regional trade, but Saarc was still least integrated region in the world. He said European Union was having 66 percent intra-region trade, North America 53 percent, Asia Pacific 32 percent and South East Asian region 25 percent, but intra-trade in Saarc was still hovering around just 4-5 percent despite possessing immense potential to improve it. 
He said about 43 percent of the 1.6 billion population of Saarc countries was languishing in poverty as these countries were unable to take better initiatives to promote regional trade. The result was that the total GDP of Saarc member states was still only 3 percent of the world’s total GDP. 
ICCI Acting President urged that Saarc nations should take all possible measures to fully implement South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) to enhance intra-trade trade. For this purpose, they should develop adequate physical infrastructure, liberalize visa regimes and enable their private sectors to tap full trade potential of the Saarc region with the aim of uplifting billions of poor people out of poverty.