SAARC CCI holds 78th Executive Committee meeting in Colombo

Ruwan Edirisinghe, President, SAARC CCI, addressing the gathering.

The 78th Executive Committee Meeting of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) was held at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo recently.

Several important meetings of SAARC CCI were also held on sideline of the executive meeting.

The SAARC CCI conference on ‘Regional Economic Integration: A Catalyst for Socioeconomic Prosperity of South Asia’, SAARC Women Business Leaders’ Summit titled ‘Inform to Reform: Opportunities for Women in South Asia’, 78th Executive Committee Meeting, and Council Meetings did mark yet another successful story in the history of SAARC CCI.

The events were organised by SAARC CCI in partnership with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL).

SAARC CCI is the apex business organisation of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) dedicated to promote regional economic integration through creating strong business links among entrepreneurs in the region being the bridge between policy makers and business community in South Asia.

Ruwan Edirisinghe, President of SAARC CCI, chaired the 78th Executive Committee (EC) Meeting which was attended by many Executive Committee (EC) and General Assembly (GA) members from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The Senior Vice President SAARC CCI – Iftikhar Ali Malik, Vice President SAARC CCI (Nepal) – Chandi Raj Dhakal, Vice President SAARC CCI (Sri Lanka) – Dr. Rohitha de Silva, and Vice President SAARC CCI (Afghanistan) – Khairuddin Mayel led the delegations of EC members and businessmen from their respective countries at the meeting. SAARC CCI Secretariat, the Secretary General SAARC CCI  – Hina Saeed and Deputy Secretary General SAARC CCI, – Zulfiqar Butt were also present.

At the 78th EC Meeting, President SAARC CCI, Ruwan Edirisnghe elaborated on the SAARC CCI Vision 2018-2019, initiatives and the upcoming events of SAARC CCI. The house approved that the 79th EC Meeting would be held in Maldives in January 2020. Furthermore, it was decided to organize a SAARC CCI Investment Forum and Trade Fair in Kathmandu, Nepal in November 2019. He also invited the members to take part in the China-South Asia Business Council Meeting scheduled to be held in November 2019 in Sri Lanka.

Along with the SAARC CCI 78th EC Meeting, The SAARC CCI conference on ‘Regional Economic Integration: A Catalyst for Socioeconomic Prosperity of South Asia’ and SAARC Women Business Leaders’ Summit titled ‘Inform to Reform: Opportunities for Women in South Asia’ were organized as side events in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF).

Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Dr. Harsha de Silva was the chief guest at the SAARC CCI conference on regional economic integration.

Minister de Silva said that the global reality is not protectionism but economic integration and open economic systems. He said that due to extreme protectionism and political issues in South Asia, the region is struggling in terms of economic integration and intra-regional trade. He suggested that it is pragmatic to focus on a model which creates a sub-regional economic integration within South Asia rather than unrealistically focusing on integration in the entire region.

President of SAARC CCI, Ruwan Edirisinghe said despite the fact South Asian countries are in general supportive of foreign direct investments and liberal economic systems, the economic integration and socioeconomic development in the region are lagging behind. Therefore, he articulated that business leaders have a major role to play in enhancing socioeconomic integration and sustainable development in South Asia filled with numerous untapped resources, educated young workforce and innovative opportunities.

He urged the business community to stop focusing on unnecessary politics based on narrow minded individual agendas, instead they should influence the governments to facilitate the private sector to accelerate economic integration and achieve sustainable development in the region.

Following the SAAR CCI conference, the SAARC Women Business Leaders’ Summit was held on the theme, ‘Inform to Reform: Opportunities for Women in South Asia’. State Minister of Petroleum Resources Development, Dr. (Mrs) Anoma Gamage, was the chief guest.

Ambassador of Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, Mohammed Ashraf Haidari, Outgoing chairperson of SCWEC, Rifa Mustapha, Vice Chairs of SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council (SCWEC), government officials, representatives of international organisations, presidents of national chambers of commerce in SAARC region, vice presidents of SAARC CCI and business leaders in South Asia were also present.

The chairpersonship of SCWEC was handed over to the Incoming Chairperson Afsana Rahimi of Afghanistan. Minister of Petroleum Resources Development, Dr. (Mrs.) Anoma Gamage stressed on the importance of women’s participation in development and their contribution towards the socio-economic activities, income generation and trade integration and how to further ensure their involvement in entrepreneurship.