Mr. Khan Jan Alokozay, Senior Vice-Chairman and Mr. Mohammad Zia Azizi, Director of International Relation Department of ACCI attended at the Promotion Conference for the upcoming China-South Asia Business Forum, which was organized by China Council for promotion of International trade (CCPIT) in collaboration with Indian Chamber of Commerce on 24th November 2016 in Calcutta, India.
The representatives of the national chambers of the South Asian countries including SAARC CCI and CCPIT attended to the promotion conference to discuss the theme, list of invitees and periodical presidency election of the following China-South Asia Business Forum. China-South Asia Business Forum is a mechanism to promote economic cooperation between China and South Asia.
The meeting was held in two sessions, opening session in the morning and the closing session in the afternoon. Participants discussed about the China-South Asia economic ties and the role of CSABF in strengthening of the economic relation among these countries in the first session; in the same way, in the Closing Session they discussed over key topics of the upcoming Forum which is going to be held in 2017.
Mr. Liu Guangxi, Chairman of CCPIT Yunnan Sub - Council briefed the participants about the CSABF and gratitude the South Asian countries for taking active part in CSABF’s every years’ sessions. He said that during the last decade, the forum had great achievements; as we see, the volume of bilateral trade between China and SAARC countries grew from $6.5 billion in 2001 to $106 Billion in 2016. In addition, He added that there are great potentials and challenging opportunities in South Asia.
Mr. Suraj Vaidya, President of SAARC CCI, thanked CCPIT for hosting the Promotion Conference and reinforced the importance of SAARC CCI and CCPIT partnership. He said that SAARC has a lot to share with China, as we have great potentials for investment and strong manpower; as most of the people living in south Asia, are in the age of 15 to 25. He named Afghanistan as an example that has over three trillion mines fit for their investments.
Equally, He stated: “several discussions on trade among China and South Asia countries have been on the table as well as participants asked investment to be as the discussion topic of the next forum.”
Khan Jan Alokozay addressed at the opening session and said: “Afghans have vested lots of hopes for the crucial role that China and India, the two majoring economies of the region, can plat in promoting regional integration.”
Moreover, He added: “There are critical obstacles against a deeper regional integration, including outdated policies and regulations, poor infrastructure and weak regional business networks. To address this, we need to consider specific domestic and regional measures. For instance, Afghanistan needs to develop its missing trade and transit infrastructure to regain its position as a major transit hub. Meanwhile, other countries in the region need to cooperate in designing and applying regional transit agreements, which will help our region, integrate faster and more efficiently.”
Besides, Mr. Alokozay added: “Afghan government’s level of interest and engagement with the private sector over the past year to promote regional trade and transit has been unprecedented. A new public-private dialog mechanism has taken shape, through which the private sector and the government would have the opportunity to work jointly to implement the Private Sector Reform Priorities, including those that emphasize on facilitation of regional trade and transit.”
Furthermore, He added: “a number of measures has taken place in Afghanistan that can positively affect the trade relation between Afghanistan and the other neighboring countries. For instance, the WTO accession, amendment of relevant commercial laws and regulations, TIR system implementation, easy visa facilitation for foreign investors and businesspersons, establishment of Afghanistan Commercial Dispute Resolution Center and so on.
Mr. Alokozay highlighted the importance of regional projects in economic integration of the South Asian countries and suggested “Regional Connectivity” or “Trade Facilitation between China-South Asia” to be the topic of discussion for the next China-South Asia Business Forum.
In sum, Mr. Alokozay emphasized that the Forum needs to be result oriented and we need to focus on three main areas which are the regional projects, its implementation and the obstacles standing against the implementation of the projects. He further added that a working committee comprising members from different countries needs to be formed and it should be responsible for follow up of the conference outcome.The conference was ended by electing Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to be the next rotating chairs for CSABF in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively.