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Friday, 29 July 2011






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SAARC moots single SIM

An eleven pronged strategy was advocated for the region which also included a common Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) at the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) conference yesterday.

SAARC Chamber president Annisul Huq presenting a memento to Chief Guest, External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris after the inauguration. Picture by Roshan Pitipana

Addressing the conference on Regional connectivity in South Asia at the Galle Face Hotel yesterday, SCCI President to Annisul Huq, said that this will be a reality soon.

Some of the other proposals that he advocated were implement transit trade on reciprocal basis, transit facilities to third countries within the region connecting each other and also evolve and implement regional and bilateral agreements on trade and transit under GATT Article V and SAFTA provisions and finalize agreements on regional motor vehicles, railways, inland water transport and short-shipping.

“Strengthen cross border infrastructure, money and finance, trade and investment and regional public goods through remodelling of policies in spirit of SAFTA. Furthering SAFTA would mean a substantial benefit,” Huq said.

Cost analysis shows that there will be considerable gains from upgrading of the Petropol-Benepole corridor, development of Bagdogra airport, improvement of Waga-Lahore rail links and Colombo Port expansion.

“We need to connect in the next seven years the people in South Asia in different points of connectivity, be it social, economic, cultural, or spiritual. Business community is ready. We now need strong will and political commitment.”

Meanwhile SSAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President Ifthikar Ali Malik said studies have suggested that if the land routes between India and Pakistan are opened for direct trade, the current level of bilateral trade of US $ 2.5 billion will increase to US$ 10 billion within a couple of years in addition to revenue generation for Governments and availability of products to consumers at competitive cost.

Out of eight SAARC Member nations, five countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal share common borders and provide vast opportunities for business through road and rail, however, due to high trade barriers, poor connectivity and inadequate trade facilitation measures, intra-regional trade largely remains unrealized.

“The signing of Transit Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a welcome move, which we believe would give boost to regional trade,” he said.


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