LAHORE - SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an apex body of chambers in the region, Saturday strongly demanded the facility of visa on arrival in SAARC countries to boost socio-economic prosperity in the South Asian countries which possess 12 per cent of global natural resources.

In his key note address at a seminar on “Trade and Investment: New Dawn in South Asian Integration” at federal capital, Vice President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pak Chapter, Iftikhar Ali Malik said that for promotion of economic cooperation in South Asia, free movement of businessmen in the region is crucial and India-Pakistan agreement on flexible visa policy will allow multiple-entry on reciprocal basis.

He said that India and Pakistan, two most powerful members of the SAARC region, have come to enter a suitable trade regime.  He stressed the urgent need for fully exploiting the indigenous natural resources and untapped mineral resources not only to improve but to strengthen the socio-economic conditions in the region on the pattern of trade blocs like NAFTA, EU, ASEAN and COMESA.

Iftikhar Ali Malik said that it is the need of the hour that all eight nations in the South Asia must work to meet common challenges especially that threaten our security, peaceful co-existence and progress in the region.

He said that SAARC is home to more than 1/5th of the world population making it the largest entity in the globe. He said that SAARC region has 45% young population and possess 12% of the global natural resources and untapped resources in more or less, the same quantity.

He said that every SAARC country has its unique characteristics as India is the 4th largest economy, Pakistan is hub of textiles, Bangladesh is centre of garments industry, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka are emerging destination of tourists from all over the world.

Iftikhar Ali Malik said that it is unfortunate that the world development indicators present bleak picture of the region on global economic fronts despite having enormous potential, the contribution of SAARC countries in global GDP is less than 2 % and its share in export is only 1.5 % which does not reflect our potential.