Higher cost of business has made it difficult for the South Asian nations to take economic benefit, according to SAARC commerce ministers.
Due to higher cost of business the region failed to take advantage from its energy, tourism and historical heritages, they said during the 5th Business Conclave of the ministers in New Delhi.
The region that houses one third of world population, has the lowest intra-regional trade, they said, adding that the unity and trust among the SAARC nations is a must to take maximum benefit from the natural resources of the region.
Nepal as a landlocked nation has a constraints in transportation, said commerce minister Shankar Prasad Koirala, on the occasion. “The access to market through easier movement is key to trade facilitation of Nepal,” he said, adding that Nepal offers a huge potential of energy that is plaguing the region. “Nepal’s energy potential has to be exploited fully to solve the regional energy crisis.”
Nepal is working jointly with India to develop cross-border transmission line to increase the energy trade between the two South Asian neighbours, he added. “The WTO meeting in Bali will also help Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to simplify agriculture and trade,” Koirala said.
Integration of the region through trade could help us take benefit, said Indian commerce minister Ananda Sharma, on the occasion. “The European nations despite their difference in language and culture, has been united to develop the region economically, he said, adding that the South Asian nations also have to learn from them. “South Asia attracts less than five per cent of the tourists visiting Singapore and Malaysia, which calls for joint efforts among Nepal, India and Bhutan to develop a new strategy to develop tourism apart from a new transit route to China that could help boost the regional trade.”
Likewise, the commerce ministers from Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, on the occasion called for prioritising the agenda for regional development, and economic prosperity of the people of the region by identifying the competent sectors.”

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