The solution lies nearby

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Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry here Saturday urged the government to focus on promotion of regional trade for being more efficient in terms of cost and logistics. “The country needs to develop a strategy of engagement with regional countries to maximise mutual economic and commercial benefits,” said LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh.
Pakistan occupies a strategic location and can play a major role in transforming the region into a trade and manufacturing hub, he said, adding, the promotion of regional trade also offers very promising benefits to the industry as it would enable it to use raw materials from the region that reduces the cost of production and creates opportunities to improve economy of scales by having easy access to neighboring markets on the other hand.
The LCCI president said the growth in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region with 22 percent of the world population has been projected to surpass 50 percent of the world’s GDP by 2030 and that calls for immediate steps by the government to boost intra-regional trade.
The SAARC is the biggest trading bloc in the world with lowest level of trade. Contribution of South Asia in the global GDP is less than two percent and its share in exports in only 1.5 per cent, which does not reflect true potential the region owns, he added. Irfan Sheikh said that pace of growth in SAARC region has been slower at five percent as compared with other blocs like European Union, ASEAN and NAFTA where intra regional trade is estimated at 62 percent, 58 percent and 28 percent respectively. “For greater Asia, we should enhance cooperation with China, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar while a freer movement of businessmen can transform this region into a bloc like European Union where the people of eight nations will remain in peace like as a family,” he maintained. Irfan Sheikh said, “Our region has lost momentum but it has the ability to bounce back as we have over 50 percent of young population, 12 percent of known global natural resources and all prerequisites to become a developed nation.”
He said that with markets in the US and Europe expected to experience prolonged weaknesses, South Asian countries have the opportunity to rethink and pursue new sources of growth in both domestic and external markets.