Kathmandu, February 24
Business leaders of SAARC member nations will gather in the Capital next month to take part in the SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave that is scheduled to be held from March 16 to 18 with an objective to promote investment, innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.
The bi-annual event of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI) is going to be held in Nepal for the second time and the
government is going to host the regional event jointly with SAARC-CCI, according to Suraj Vaidya, president of SAARC-CCI.
Former president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, has been invited to deliver a keynote speech in the conclave. Mukherjee was the host of the
second SAARC business leaders’ conclave. Former president of Sri Lanka Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has also been invited to address the conclave.
Top-notch businesspeople from the region will be addressing the conclave.
India has so far conducted this event three times, and Nepal and Sri Lanka have organised it once so far. “SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave was supposed to be held in Pakistan along with the SAARC summit, but it could not happen as the SAARC summit has been postponed,” said Vaidya.
The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) meeting is also scheduled towards the end of the conclave. The commerce ministers of the region are going to meet after four years to discuss unresolved issues to bring the SAFTA agreement into effect. There will be bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event.
“Our intention in organising such events is to hold discussions on major issues for unleashing the potential of shared prosperity of the region,” said Vaidya.
One-fourth of the world’s population lives in South Asia and it has a huge number of youth population.
“However, the South Asian nations are rigid in promoting intra-regional trade and investment, and such rigid policies need to be opened up to take forward South Asia as a vibrant region,” Vaidya added.
The World Bank will provide support to the event as a knowledge partner. The event will provide a common platform to South Asian think-tanks, policymakers, and businesspeople. They are slated to hold intensive interactions on various issues to discuss, debate and come up with solutions and opportunities to take South Asia on the path of shared prosperity through economic integration.
A version of this article appears in print on February 25, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.