CII suggests 5-point agenda for greater intra-SAARC co-operation

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New Delhi, Aug 2 (UNI) The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) today suggested a five-point agenda to further the intra-SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) co-operation.

The agenda included enhancing trade and investment flows; regional cooperation on climate change and energy security; integration of infrastructure; cooperation in healthcare and human skills development; and cooperation in agriculture and SME development.

Enhancing trade among the SAARC countries--India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal--in a time bound manner will hasten the process of SAARC integration, it said.

The chamber suggested to reduce the number of items in the SAFTA (South Asia Free Trade Agreement) negative list of various countries.

To encourage intra-SAARC investment, CII called for framing of a regional policy and setting up of Export Promotion Zones (EPZ's)/Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in each SAARC member country.

The industry body said increasing cooperation in climate change and energy security within SAARC members would improve regional co-operation in South Asia.

CII recommended setting up of a South Asia fund on Climate Change and a South Asian regional energy grid.

It suggested setting up of an Integrated South Asia transport network for easier movement of goods, services and people.

Increased movement of people would improve the prospects of a South Asian integration, opined the industry association.

CII also suggested on the need to project the whole region as a tourist hub and introduction of a common visa towards this objective.

For cooperation in improving healthcare and human skills development, the chamber called for setting up of SAARC healthcare centres and hospitals for common South Asian diseases like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB, Cancer in each SAARC member country.

To enhance cooperation in agriculture and SME development, CII recommended setting up of a South Asian centre for agriculture research and extension services.

To make South Asia a manufacturing hub, CII viewed developing an integrated network of manufacturing, based on complementarity and outsourcing.

UNI MP AKJ KP2125

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