LAHORE - The South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI) on Thursday welcomed the visit of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, positive reaction of Pakistani authorities and agreement to resume composite dialogue, terming it a right development in right direction.

SAARC-CCI President Suraj Vaidya observed that it is appreciable that the two major countries of the region have shown their resolve to resume dialogue that will help in exploring the trade potential between the neighboring countries.

He said that the Indo-Pak trade could jump 10 times the current volume while the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers could result in an expansion of trade between the two countries from its current $2.5 billion to about $50 billion. Suraj Vaidya, who is presently on visit to Pakistan to attend the Heart of Asia Conference, stated that Islamabad and New Delhi should play their role to resolve bilateral issues, which are creating hurdles in trade.

He went on to appreciate the role of Pakistan national forces and the people of Pakistan in fighting against terrorism. He insisted that all regional powers must show greater restraint and maturity to bring back peace and stability in the region.

Saarc CCI vice president Iftikhar Malik said trade among Saarc nations could be increased to one hundred billion dollars from the current dismal $28 billion which will unleash new era of peace and prosperity. He said that only 5 percent trade of the Southeast Asian nations is within the region while rest of the 95 percent trade of Saarc countries is with Europe and America which has impeded development.

Iftikhar Malik said that Saarc countries are not encouraging trade and investment within region while preferring trade through third countries which has made Sub-Continent home to the majority of the poor in the world.

Abdul Rauf Alam, the presidential candidate of FPCCI, said that once the Sub-continent was richest place of earth due to free trade but now focus on barriers has changed the situation. The region with 45 percent youth among 1.7 billion population is among underdeveloped areas where unemployment is fanning unhealthy tendencies.

FPCCI president Mian Adrees said that easing trade and visa restrictions, encouraging people-to-people contacts and promoting tourism, health and education can bring countries together which can result in a change. He said that the economic integration of China and South Asian will form a huge market of 2.8 billion people. We are looking towards China for mega investments in infrastructure development to increase connectivity to boost trade, he added.