After over two decades, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) have finally received recognition from the eight-member regional bloc.
Established in 1991, a team of SAARC CCI led by its senior vice president Suraj Vaidya participated in the 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu as observe participants. SAARC CCI members from Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India also participated in the summit.
Saurabh Jyoti, executive member of SAARC CCI, said SAARC CCI finally succeeded in due recognition after 22 years of its establishment. "This is the first in the history of SAARC that private sector was allowed to participate in the inauguration and closing ceremonies of SAARC Summit," added Jyoti.
Jyoti also said SAARC CCI office-bearers and executive members separately met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and requested them to raise economic agendas in the summit.
In the meeting with Modi held on Thursday, officials of SAARC CCI requested the Indian Prime Minister to improve regional connectivity and ease visa procedures for entrepreneurs of SAARC countries for doing business in India. They also suggested to Modi to take necessary initiatives for raising SAARC member countries´ intra regional trade from existing 5 percent to 8 percent of their total trade within three years.
Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, president of Water, Energy and Environment Council of SAARC CCI said the private sector representatives from Pakistan had strongly lobbied for SAARC Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation (Electricity) and the last minute agreement was possible on the initiation of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
Pradhan also said they sought greater participation of SAARC CCI in different bodies of the SAARC, policy-level dialogues and different committees. SAARC CCI has also expressed commitments to help implement the SAARC energy deal by generating hydropower and investing in energy trading.
Past presidents of SAARC CCI Dasho Ugen Tsechup Dorji, Annisul Huq and Shri Vikramjit Singh Sahney participated in the summit. Likewise, incumbent vice presidents Monowara Hakim Ali, Karma Lotay, Ramesh Kumar Mutha, and Iftikhar Ali Malik also participated in the summit. Likewise, Juber Ali Malik, past president of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was among the private sector representatives that attended the summit.