Vol. 4 Num 76 Mon. August 11, 2003  

Infrastructure dearth hinders FDI flow in South Asia
SAARC Chamber president says

Lack of market integration and infrastructure hinders the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in South Asian region, said Padma Jyoti, president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), yesterday.

"The FDI inflow in the region was only four billion dollar in 2001, while it was $47 billion in only China, which has the same population like South Asia," he said while addressing a post-roundtable press conference in Dhaka.

The roundtable on 'Co-operation in Trade: Making SAARC a Prosperous Region' was jointly organised by the SCCI, the apex business organisation of the SAARC region, and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

The SCCI president emphasised strengthening of the trade infrastructures in roads, ports and airports, easing visa regulations and enabling free movement within the region to augment trade and investment.

He said the region also lacks mutual co-operation among the countries. The intra-ASEAN trade is almost 25 per cent of its total trade volume while the intra-SAARC trade is less than 5 per cent of the region's total trade.

The SAARC chamber will organise a joint secretary level meeting on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) treaty framework in October this year, the SCCI president told the press conference.

He said the chamber will arrange visits for trade delegations of all the SAARC countries to enable them in discussing bilateral issues ahead of the 12th SAARC summit to be held in Pakistan from January 4 to 6 next year.

The SCCI is committed to increasing trade, investment and technology partnerships in the region. To fulfil the objective what is needed is to show strong political will by all the governments of SAARC member countries," Jyoti observed.

He expressed dissatisfaction over not arranging a regional commerce ministerial meeting on WTO's upcoming Cancun meet as decisions coming out at the conference will have important effect on the region's trade.

However, Jyoti hailed the recent initiative taken by the governments of India and Pakistan to improve their bilateral relations.

He also urged the two governments to resume flights and rail communications between them, as the relations of these two countries are important for the South Asian region.

FBCCI President Yussuf Abdullah Harun was also present at the press conference.