LAHORE: The President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(SAARC CCI) Ruwan Edirisinghe Saturday urged for deeper economic cooperation with China
saying that this collaboration will usher in a new era of progress, prosperity, development,
economic growth and welfare of the people of the region.
According to a message received here today from Sri Lanka he was talking to leader of pak
chapter SAARC chamber delegation Senior Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik currently
attending “South Asia Business” meeting in Sri Lanka. Ruwan said their recent visit to China
was a great success in term of increasing trade volume among the SAARC states and China. He
said the South Asian states to make SAARC a vibrant and viable organisation to reap the
advantages of regional connectivity schemes such as China’s One-Belt One Road (OBOR)
initiative, which also includes the mega project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
and if that happens, the relations of these countries with China will further improve to the benefit
of the entire SAARC. He said there is dire need of fostering trade relation with China from
collective platform of SAARC instead of developing relation separately.
He said many South Asian countries were entering new relations with China. For one, China has
offered generous proposals in the region: CPEC being the much-talked about example in
Pakistan. But China is also investing in other countries, including Nepal and Bangladesh. Yet, as
of now, China has to deal with these South Asian countries separately, a situation not much
beneficial to both SAARC and China. He said while all the South Asian countries were working
in the same direction individually why they did not work together.
SAARC CCI President said there is a need for SAARC to learn from the success of ASEAN.
He suggests that leaders of SAARC countries meet more often informally, that they interfere less
in the internal workings of each other’s governments, and that there be more interaction at every
level of government.
Iftikhar Ali Malik appreciating the role and result oriented efforts of Ruwan for making SAARC
Chamber more vibrant, said Pakistan seeks greater role of China in SAARC states as China is
always keen to support accelerating connectivity to South Asia. He said China has deepened
cooperation in trade, investment and agriculture in SAARC since it became an observer in 2006.