16 November 2017, 01:11 PM

One region, one agenda: Development through cooperation

One region, one agenda: Development through cooperation

The initiatives of the SAARC CCI

Collective gains can result only from collective vision and action. The foundation of regional cooperation is cemented not just by a shared history or cultural affinity but by a strong sense of common purpose. The South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded on December 08, 1985, to facilitate the economic growth of a region grappling with problems of poverty and inequality, and help its all-round development by allowing the free movement of people, goods, and services. A common market and regional communication and transportation networks were the main mechanisms envisioned to achieve this. But political conflicts and regional rivalries have often come in the way of trust generating, collaborative policies and ventures. Beyond the hardscape of politics, are the stake-building and confidence boosting drives of economics. Growing intra-regional cultural and trade ties have added heft to the idea that irrespective of disruptive politics, it can be “business as usual” for the SAARC member countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The fulcrum of this cooperation is the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI). Comprising of the leading entrepreneurs and representatives of national commerce and industry chambers of the member countries, it is in the best position to bring about, as its profile states, “improvement in the business environment, disseminate information about potential tradable goods and identify joint ventures in the SAARC region.”

One such policy-influencing initiative of the SAARC CCI took place recently during its two-day conference in Chennai. It was jointly organised with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). On October 22, the focus was on “integrating small and medium enterprises (SME) into regional value chains” and on  October 23, domain experts and delegates discussed water management and scalable business solutions by “unlocking climate investment opportunities in SAARC”.