Vol. 4 Num 218 Mon. January 05, 2004  

Indian chamber urges Delhi to up imports from Saarc countries

A leading trade body of India wants New Delhi to provide other Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) countries with greater market access for taking the concept of regional trade co-operation to its logical conclusion.T

Ravi Wig, President of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi Chambers of Commerce and Industries said Bangladesh is India's largest trading partner in the region accounting for 42 percent of the total exports in the region in 2002-03 financial year.

But imports from Bangladesh comprise just 11 percent of India's total imports from Saarc countries, he pointed out adding while 56 percent of the imports is from Nepal alone.

He said it is necessary to prod other Saarc member-countries to increase their exports to India.

If measures are not taken to encourage exports from other Saarc countries, the latter would not be enthusiastic about pushing the idea of regional economic co-operation to its logical end, Wig said.

He said the chamber is in talks with experts from the region to identify ways to boost imports from other Saarc countries.

According to Wig, the India-Sri Lanka trade co-operation is being taken as a model for enhancing imports from other Saarc countries. Exports from the island nation to India are now estimated at over Rs 4 billion, up from negligible quantum till a few years ago.

He said a key reason for increase in Sri Lanka's exports to India is that many Indian entrepreneurs have set up joint ventures in that country which has come out with investment-friendly policies.