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ISLAMABAD, Jun 15 (APP):Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar Monday congratulated veteran business leader Iftikhar Ali Malik for becoming president of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) for two years term and hoped that he will continue to exploit his potentials for the promotion of trade and industry in South Asia.

Governor Punjab Ch Muhammad Sarwar extended his felicitation to Iftikhar Ali Malik by telephone and expressed his hope that Iftikhar Ali Malik would utilize his best abilities to bring closer the SAARC member states besides promoting regional trade.

He further said that his nomination was a proof of his untiring efforts for the business community of the region.

Sarwar said there is also dire need of extending cooperation at maximum level among the member states and steps should be taken to defeat the deadly Coronavirus collectively besides chalking out a long-term economic recovery plan for the region.

He said our greatest concern is the potential of the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems coupled with a bleak economy which are ill-prepared to deal with it.

The governor hoped that Iftikhar Malik would play his role to bring all the South Asian countries on one page regarding the issue of dealing with coronavirus pandemic.

He said Pakistan is fully committed to improving trade relations among SAARC countries including India to make South Asia the most economically integrated region in the world.

“South Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, but it is also one of the least integrated, as its intra-regional trade accounts for just 5 percent of total trade, compared with 25 percent in the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN),” he added.

Muhammad Sarwar said the present government of PTI led by Prime Minster Imran Khan was fully committed to restoring peace and ensuring prosperity in the SAARC region and at the same time, Pakistan wants to maintain her foreign and trade relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect.

Iftikhar Ali Malik expressed his gratitude for this felicitation to Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar and he said that with a view to ensuring trade facilitation in the region the problems regarding SAARC visa sticker, removal of trade barriers including acceptance of standard certificate, limitations of infrastructure in the land ports, should be removed.

He further said Pakistan always strives to make SAARC an important vehicle for regional cooperation based on the principle of sovereign equality and still remained committed to SAARC objectives.

He also emphasized on restructuring production and export processes to improve trans-boundary trade in South Asia.

He said the crisis was an opportunity to put aside traditional concerns and take joint action. “Short-term collaboration to fight the pandemic could bring longer-term benefits by strengthening regional institutions, improving regional infrastructure and connectivity , advancing trade policy, and developing cross-boundary solutions to shared issues,” he concluded.