ISLAMABAD (APP) - Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday asked the South Asian countries to step up their efforts for regional integration to create new economic opportunities for prosperity and stability in the region. This would help to create new economic opportunities, promote trade and exports in the region, said Zahid Maqbool, president ICCI. He said South Asian countries including Pakistan are endowed with plenty of natural and human resources. However, they need greater regional integration to exploit these resources for achieving better economic development. He said other countries are strengthening their economies by promoting regional integration and South Asia should also focus on this pattern to tackle the problems of poverty, unemployment and many other ills connected with underdevelopment. He said intra-Asian trade in 2008 was US$ 453-billion representing about 27 percent of Asians external trade. Similarly trade of NAFTA, a regional block of only three countries comprising USA , Canada and Mexico, was US$ 1 trillion in 2007. But compared to these impressive results, the share of intra- SAARC trade in 2008 was just 4.31 percent of its total trade while the region has great potential to improve it. Zahid Maqbool said the South Asian countries should explore more trade opportunities within the region and should facilitate intra-regional trade in order to stabilize their economies. He said exploring opportunities to expand intra-regional trade would give South Asia greater chances to not only benefit from trade but also increase stability against external shocks. He said by promoting regional integration, the South Asian countries can swim and smoothly tide over all obstacles coming in way of their development and fast growth.