ISLAMABAD: President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Suraj Vaidya on Tuesday reiterating his pledge to take concrete and result -oriented steps for greater economic integration by fully exploiting all indigenous natural resources for the progress, prosperity, development and welfare of the people mainly aimed at to do away with abject poverty in South Asia.He was presiding over a meeting of SAARC Chamber 72nd Executive Committee and 22nd General Assembly meetings of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday.He said that in an increasingly developed world, the objectives of peace, freedom, social justice and economic prosperity are best achieved in the South Asian region by fostering mutual understanding, good neighborly relations and meaningful cooperation among the member states which are bound by ties of history and culture.SAARC Chamber has been proactively advocating stronger commercial and economic relations, for a prosperous and integrated South Asia. Since its inception, SAARC CCI has played an integral role in providing an institutional framework for promoting economic and regional cooperation in South Asia,” said Suraj Vaidya.He further stated that SAARC should adopt a global approach and should focus on a wide range of activities like poverty alleviation, improvement of the health sector, trade and commerce in the region.He said South Asia comprises 3 percent of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$ 2.9 trillion) of the global economy. The respective governments are trying to give its people a much higher quality of life racked by high illiteracy, dismissal health care and sanitation.He remarked that initiatives may be taken to utilize the potential of cooperation in the areas of tourism and energy of the region. He said that with a view to ensuring trade facilitation in the region the problems regarding SAARC VISA Sticker, removal of trade barriers including NTMs, acceptance of standard certificate, limitations of infrastructure in the land ports, etc should be removed. He said the leading business communities of all 8 countries feel that closer collaboration amongst businessmen is integral for regional integration and is a win-win situation for all stakeholders. “At SAARC CCI, our aim is to facilitate businesses of South Asia and to encourage investors from SAARC region and beyond to invest in SAARC countries. We strongly feel that this exchange will address major challenges the region faces; job creation for the youth of South Asia, our region’s biggest asset; and poverty,” he added.Meanwhile Vice President SCCI Iftikhar Ali Malik underscored that unless strong commitment was shown by all nations in the region towards respecting and honoring sovereign equality, the progress of SAARC will keep getting hampered.He said SAARC should adopt a global approach and should focus on a wide range of activities like poverty alleviation, improvement of the health sector, trade and commerce in the region.Published in Daily Times, February 7th2018.