LAHORE - The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for policy initiatives for durable future economic trade relations among SAARC member countries, especially between Pakistan and India.

SAARC chamber vice president Iftikhar Malik said that a stable and democratic government in Pakistan would steer the country away from economic crisis and defuse tension in the region. He urged leaders of all political parties to help strengthen the democratic system in the national interest, as political stability was a key factor for economic development and for restoring confidence of investors. He also stressed the government to proactively deal with the ongoing crisis to avert industrial closures.

He urged the government to increase investment in agricultural research in order to boost crop yields and strengthen food security in the country, besides granting interest-free agricultural loans on lenient terms and conditions to farmers. Regarding the CPEC, he said that it is an economic agenda and hence its ownership should be entrusted to the private sector of Pakistan. He said Pakistan is now making efforts to shift the head office of ECO to Islamabad as head offices of Islamic chamber and SAARC chamber are already housed in Islamabad. He also mentioned the construction of capital office of FPCCI in Islamabad. He expressed hope that a bill will also be tabled in the National Assembly to enhance the tenure of the FPCCI president from one to two years. He said Pakistan is an economic hub of regional business activities.

To a question, SAARC chamber vice president said Pakistan, China and Afghanistan had a long tradition of interactions and Pakistan was one of the largest trading partners of Afghanistan as it exported goods and services worth approximately $3 billion annually. He said the next phase of CPEC, as part of the wider One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, would be extended to Central Asia via Afghanistan. He said SAARC chamber will continue to play a vital role for the promotion of trade with Afghanistan and special Afghan desk has also been set up to facilitate traders of either country.

To another question, he said that United Business Group (UBG) is to sweep approaching elections of the apex chamber for the fourth time. He said that all the contestants of UBG will be the genuine representatives of the business community, enjoying unparalleled respect due to their integrity and expertise to serve the community. He said the national economy of every country in the world is based on its export but unfortunately Pakistan’s export is declining. He stressed the need to devise a comprehensive strategy to promote the industry on commercial basis which will not only support the manufactures but also increase export.