H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Inaugural Session of the Fifth SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave in New Delhi today.
Organized by the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), the Conclave brought together Hon. Ministers of Commerce and Industry from all the Member States of SAARC except Bangladesh, besides a large number of trade delegations from them. The Conclave was devoted to theme, South Asian Century: Progressing towards Regional Integration.
Addressing the Inaugural Session of the Conclave, the Secretary-General stated, “Economic cooperation in the region was initiated in the early 90s with the institution of the Committee on Economic Cooperation, following the completion of the first SAARC Study on Trade and Manufactures and Services. While it is very true that SAARC has taken small steps at a time, there has never been a case of looking back. As a result, SAARC today has many a success story to relate.” He further said, “Since the early 1990s, SAARC has taken several important initiatives to enhance regional economic integration. The SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA), the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), and more recently, the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) are landmark Agreements in the pursuit of our common objective of speedy regional integration. With the coming into being of these Agreements, statistical evidence suggests that intra-sub regional trade among SAFTA members is rising slowly and steadily. South Asia’s intra-sub-regional trade share increased from 2.7% in 1990 to 4.3% in 2011.”H. E. Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India delivered the Inaugural Address at the Conclave. Others addressing the Inaugural Session included Mr. V. S. Sahney, President, SCCI, Mr. Sidharth Birla, President, FICCI, and Mr. Siegfried Herzog, Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.