Associated Press of Pakistan | 8 June 2008
President SAARC Chamber proposes FTA between China and SAARC countries
BEIJING, June 8 (APP): A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and South Asia has been proposed to unleash hitherto untapped potential due to non- preferential trade between China and SAARC nations. The proposal of FTA was submitted by President SAARC Chamber of Commerce Tariq Sayeed while addressing at the inaugural session of the 3rd China-South Asia Business Forum in Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province.
“Inclusion of China in South Asian bloc would further excel the role of SAARC in the global economy and help growth of the region as a whole, provided the member states show commitment to join hands with the World 2nd biggest economy and the 3rd largest import destination of the World”, he noted.
His perception was endorsed by Ambassador of Bangladesh and by other leading business figures of South Asia and China.
President SAARC urged upon the Chinese Government to promote trade with South Asian countries as the present level of trade of worth $34 billion was not reflective of the potential available.
Tariq Sayeed said that it was far below the bilateral trade of China with ASEAN countries which has surpassed the target of $ 200 billion ahead of three years.
He further said that although the countries are faced with severe challenges while trading with China, it also provides an import market of more than $800 billion.
“South Asian countries had the potential to make niche in huge Chinese market”, he said.
While appreciating the economic reforms of China particularly during the ongoing decade, he said that the developing countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka should follow the Chinese economic model if they were willing to stay at global economic map with pride and prosperity.
Earlier, the 3rd China-South Asia Business Forum inaugurated in Kunming, China with a commitment to establish strategic partnerships in the mutually interest areas to enhance commercial toes between China and South Asian Nations.
The Forum was inaugurated by Mr. Luo Zhengfu, Executive vice Governor of Yunnan Province who urged upon the Chinese entrepreneurs to preferably promote trade with South Asia since the region had the great potential to become one of the leading trade partners of China.
The Chairman, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Wan Jifei, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Eklil Ahmad Hakimi and Director General, Department of Asian Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, China Lu Kejian also addressed the inaugural session.
The President, Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Pakistan Tanvir Ahmad Sheikh in his address at the second session presented idea of formation of an economic bloc consisting of China, South Asia and may be Central Asian economies.
He pointed out that it would be the biggest economic bloc with the biggest economic power because of their common social and cultural heritage, geographical location, size of economy, natural resources and intellectual capital.
Senior members from trade bodies of SAARC also addressed the two sessions.