Saarc CCI calls for free trading, energy transit

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Saarc CCI calls for free trading, energy transit

Jul 29, 2015-

The Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Saarc CCI) has called for free trading in energy related materials, products and equipment in the Paro Declaration which wrapped up a conference entitled Cleaner, Greener South Asia: Managing Climate Change and Water Resources held in collaboration with the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Icimod in Paro, Bhutan on July 25.

The declaration has also demanded freedom of energy transit through pipelines and grids besides protection and promotion of foreign investment in energy, and an extension of national treatment or most favoured nation treatment. 

Likewise, the declaration has called for setting up an Electric Power Forum in South Asia comprising of public and private sector power companies, experts and practitioners to promote energy trade in the region. The body will work for efficient development of the energy sector in South Asia, promote opportunities for economic cooperation and facilitate the implementation of priority energy projects. 

“As energy is an important issue for economic growth, we aim to increase investment in the power sector,” said Suraj Vaidya, acting president of the Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The declaration has called for a mechanism for the resolution of state-to-state or investor-to-state disputes in the region.

According to Vaidya, the Paro Declaration has considered making uninterrupted power supply available at affordable prices as it is an essential factor for economic and industrial growth. Political leaders, experts and policymakers participating in the conference agreed that there should be three sub-grid systems in the region, namely eastern, western and southern grids, as a grid covering all of South Asia is not possible presently. 

According to the Paro Declaration, the eastern grid will include Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will form the western grid, and India and Sri Lanka the southern grid. The declaration says that there should be agreements on energy and energy projects at the Saarc level to increase accessibility and affordability among the under-privileged, and have an impact on reducing inter-state tensions in the South Asian region besides fuelling economic growth.

Vaidya said that they had been demanding the establishment of Saarc Craft Villages in all the South Asian countries to boost trade activities. “Being a landlocked country, we are facing many problems in trade, so we need to make a common strategy,” he said.

Likewise, Rita Bhandari, vice-chairman of the Saarc Chamber Women Entrepreneur Council, said the government should provide a separate logo for products made by women entrepreneurs of South Asian countries. 

“We are facing difficulties during customs clearance when exporting goods. So there is a need for a separate identity for these products,” she added. The Paro Declaration has also urged categorizing hydropower under renewable energy.


Published: 30-07-2015 08:39

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