The private sector of the South Asia is going to expand their network and help boost intra-regional trade and investment as the SAARC Business Leaders conference in New Delhi today – on the concluding day of the meeting –agreed in principal to issue some 500 SAARC sticker business visa to enhance regional economic engagement.
Indian commerce minister Ananda Sharma had proposed to more than double the SAARC sticker business visa as currently South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries issue only 200 business visas.
However, the decision will be stamped by the meeting of the SAARC home ministers and implemented by the immigration of the respective countries.
On the occasion, the South Asian countries also called for greater involvement of private sector players to enhance regional integration and increasing trade and investments in the SAARC that houses one third of the world’s population.
The free movement of the private sector players with the increase in business visa will also help them work collectively for the economic integration and development of the region that has the least intra-regional trade.
They also called for enhanced intra-regional trade. They also emphasised on the need to strengthen the land, air and sea connectivity in the region that is least integrated. “Easy and simplified visa process in the SAARC countries will help integrate the region economically,” the SAARC commerce ministers said, also urging to fight poverty collectively, reducing the trade deficit with special focus on the development of transportation infrastructure.
According to a report, South Asia has the largest number of poor people with over 500 million living below the poverty line.
Addressing the conference minister for commerce and supplies Shankar Prasad Koirala said that the countries in South Asia must find ways to reap maximum benefits from the natural resources in the region. “The house to some 1.70 billion population has to find ways to take benefit from the integrated regional trade,” he said, adding that lowering the cost of business will help the region make more competitive. “The region has huge potential for energy development, which needs to be exploited for common benefit.”
Meanwhile, in one-to-one meeting with Indian commerce minister Ananda Sharma, Koirala urged to immediately implement the decisions of trade facilitation during the recent Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) meeting in Kathmandu. The commerce secretary level meeting had agreed to allow Nepal use Vishkhapatnam Port by India. “A team of Nepali bureaucrats is visiting India to work out the immediate implementation of the commerce secretary level meeting’s decision,” Koirala informed.

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