SAARC CCI Proposes Subregional Blocs to Address Common Economic Agendas

10 March 2015

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) plans to form subregional blocs that will address common economic issues of its member countries to increase intra-regional trade.

Proposed under the SAARC CCI Action Plan for 2015, subregional groupings include an energy bloc focusing on energy and grid connectivity with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal as members; a western sub-regional bloc prioritizing railway and road transport connectivity including Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan; and a third bloc focusing on operationalizing sea routes for trading with India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka as members. This work plan was tabled during a joint session of SAARC CCI's 62nd Executive Committee and 20th General Assembly in New Delhi, India on 10 March 2015.

The proposed work plan also includes

  • A CEO Forum for leading enterprises and industries to identify areas of cooperation and initiate partnership on mega projects;
  • A SAARC Shipping Company and a SAARC Transport and Logistics Company to facilitate faster and more efficient intra-regional trade; and
  • Various events to discuss cooperation and promote investments in hydropower development in Bhutan and Nepal, as well as develop required transmission infrastructure in the SAARC region. 

This work plan was tabled during a joint session of SAARC CCI's 62nd Executive Committee and 20th General Assembly in New Delhi, India on 10 March 2015.

Speaking at the joint session, India's Union Minister Mr. V.K. Singh encouraged the private sector to push through with a concrete and progressive roadmap tapping the benefits of diverse sectors and resources of SAARC member states. According to him, the Indian government would assist the SAARC community to remove roadblocks to trade. He also emphasized that better exchange, cooperation, and building of joint ventures among SAARC countries would boost the region's development and help reduce poverty.

SAARC CCI Chairman Advisory Council Mr. Vikramjit Singh Sahney also requested Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi's support in expediting the approval process for the SAARC frequent business traveler pass. SAARC CCI recommended increasing the number of visas from 500 for each SAARC member state to 1,000.

The next SAARC CCI meeting is on 29-30 April 2015 in Pakistan. It coincides with the SAARC Ministerial Meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan where the motor vehicle agreement ensuring free movement of vehicles within SAARC will be tabled.


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