FM hopes new SAARC CCI President to promote trade


By Asim Hussain

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi congratulating Iftikhar Ali Malik for becoming president, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) has expressed his hope that he would utilize best of his abilities to promote trade and industry not only in the region but also in Pakistan.
The Foreign Minister in a greeting letter addressed to newly elected SAARC CCI president said that Iftikhar Ali Malik is a seasoned businessman and he would utilize his all abilities and experiences to bring all the SAARC countries further closer and help them enhance trade among all the member states.
He reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to enhance cooperation among member countries and development partners in the health sector, with particular focus on COVID-19. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan has proposed that developed countries may facilitate developing countries to meet the challenge through debt restructuring so that they can use limited resources to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on their economies and provide effective relief to poor people.
He said Pakistan has the highest coronavirus testing capacity to date among all South Asian countries at 20,000 tests a day.
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic was an “unprecedented challenge†that has become one of the biggest catalysts after World War II, the Foreign Minister said health experts around the world were trying their level best to come up with strategies to curb the virus till a vaccine could be made.
He reiterated that Pakistan desires peaceful relations with all the neighboring countries for peace and stability in the region. FM Qureshi underlined the need to establish new trade centers in the region to strengthen economic and trade relations.
Iftikhar Ali Malik expressed his gratitude for his greetings and said the economy has to be the most important agenda for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations despite political challenges and compulsions.
He assured the minister that he would utilize all his energy to materialize the vision of 2030 besides accelerating efforts towards forging closer bilateral and regional partnerships and economic integration within the subcontinent and beyond.
Iftikhar Malik said due to lack of physical infrastructure to unleash the economic potential of the region, SAARC CCI had also identified some projects of energy, connectivity, and taking advantage of value addition in the information technology sector.
He said an investment-friendly environment to promote trade in the region if appropriate steps were taken timely to remove trade barriers and streamline custom procedures, intra-regional trade in South Asia would nearly quadruple from the current USD 28 billion to over USD 100 billion.
He appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision and efforts for promoting regional peace and stability and hoped that under his dynamic leadership, Pakistan would come on the track of progress and prosperity. Iftikhar Malik also said Pakistan had all resources to become an economic giant but only need was to set directions with zeal, courage and sincerity. He said Pakistan’s huge mineral resources could help get rid of the economic ills.