6th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave

With an objective to promote investment, innovation and entrepreneurship in the region by unleashing shared prosperity through economic integration, SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry organized 6th edition of SAARC Business Leaders Conclave (SBLC) in Kathmandu Nepal from 16th -18th March, 2018. The 6th SBLC was organized under the theme “Unleashing Shared Prosperity through Economic Integration”.   The event has drawn business leaders of the SAARC member nations, business and political leaders and government officials, among other stakeholders, to identify the major challenges and way forward in the regional economic cooperation.
Inaugural of 6th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave

Hon’ble Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. KP Sharma Oli was the Chief Guest of the Conclave and gave an inaugural speech. The inaugural session was also addressed by Mr. Suraj Vaidya, President, SAARC CCI, Mr. Amjad B. Sial, Secretary General, SAARC, Ms. Bhawani Rana, President, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Dr. Ronald Meinardus, Regional Director, Friedrich Naumann Foundation (India) and Mr. Om Bahadur Rajbhandari, Vice President, SAARC CCI (Nepal). Hon. Mr. Matrika Prasad Yadav, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply also witnessed the inaugural session.

Inaugurating the three-day event, the honourable Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that for long the South Asian countries have been facing common challenges in terms of development, now it is a high time for all the governments of the region to work together and mitigate developmental, business and economic challenges.  “South Asia is blessed with resources, however, many of resources in the region have remained untapped,” Mr. Oli said. He further added that Nepal is keen to work together with all the governments of South Asia to make optimum use of available resources and make the region the most prosperous one. The prime minister also said that the outcome of the discussions and deliberations at the SAARC Business Leaders’ Conclave will be useful for the governments in the region for policy reforms to ensure business growth in South Asia.

Mr. Amjad B. Sial, Secretary General, SAARC in his address said that promoting regional economic integration is a priority of SAARC.  He said that public-private partnership remains a crucial cornerstone for promoting regional economic integration and connectivity in the region. Frequent exchanges of trade delegations, organization of trade fairs and holding of seminars under the auspices of SAARC CCI for sharing knowledge and best practices are other important measures for promoting regional economic integration. He acknowledged SAARC CCI’s role in strengthening economic relations in the region.

Earlier, Mr. Suraj Vaidya, President SAARC CCI in his welcome address said that the business conclave primarily intends to unleash the untapped potential that South Asia has. He urged on the need for collaborative efforts between the governments and private sector in the region to work for economic integration and prosperity. President SAARC CCI said that almost 21 per cent of the world’s population inhibits in South Asia and more than half of the population in the region is active working population. He added that South Asia is full of youth, talent, resources, diversifications and many more. He said that the event will be a platform to figure out the possible measures to make South Asia a prosperous region in the world.

On the occasion, Ms. Bhawani Rana, President of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) emphasized the need to enhance and strengthen connectivity among South Asian nations to promote regional trade and economy. She added that despite intense proximity, the South Asian economies tend to focus more of their trade on distant economic regions, such as the European Union, rather than on their neighbors. While highlighting the importance of the economic integration in South Asia, she said that new policies to stimulate economic growth have become indispensible because the region as a whole remains plagued by extreme poverty.

The inaugural session concluded with a vote of thanks by Mr. Om Bahadur Rajbhandari, Vice President, SAARC CCI (Nepal).

The inaugural session was followed by technical sessions focused upon contemporary challenges of the region. The session includes “Unleashing South Asia: A Mantra For Shared Economic Prosperity”, Political & Economic Convergence For Growth: The Way Forward, South Asia: Building Partnership In The Global Economy, Regional Integration And Energy Cooperation: Success Through Synergy, Tourism Promoting And Branding Our Common Cultural Heritage And Fostering Mutual Understanding, Agribusiness: Target - Doubling Agribusiness By 2030, Digital Economy: A Future For South Asia, Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks: Role Of Private Sectors, Investing In Infrastructure: Ensuring Better South Asian Connectivity, Strengthening Connectivity And Trade In South Asia: The Case For Gender-Responsive Logistics, Women Empowering South Asia.

The conclave concluded with the Ministerial Round: Shared Prosperity- Unleashing Investment In South Asia, addressed by Hon’ble Mr. Matrika Prasad Yadav, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Nepal, Hon’ble Mr. Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, Minister for Economic Affairs, Royal Kingdom of Bhutan, Hon’ble Mr. Humyoon Rasaw, Minister for Commerce and Industries, Islamic Republic of Aghanistan and Mr. Padma Jyoti, Former President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry and moderated by Mr. Kunda Dixit.
Ministerial Round: Shared Prosperity- Unleashing Investment In South Asia

Hon’ble Minister for Economic Affairs Mr. Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, Royal Kingdom of Bhutan in his address said South Asian governments should translate commitments into action, develop regional infrastructure and remove “unspoken barriers” including sensitive lists and a range of domestic taxes. He added that during the last SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in 2014, the Eight-Nation bloc signed a framework agreement on energy cooperation, but it is not known when South Asian countries will be able to reap benefit from this pact.

Hon’ble Mr. Humyoon Rasaw, Minister for Commerce and Industries, Afghanistan said that cross-border energy trade could help all the countries in the region. For this, strategic partnership, which is the cornerstone for sustained economic development of the region, must be formed.

Hon’ble Minister For Industry, Commerce And Supplies, Nepal, Mr. Matrika Yadav, said that the political leaders of SAARC member countries should introduce policies to promote intra-regional investment and ensure hassle-free cross-border movement of goods and people as envisaged by the SAARC Charter. He also urged for early finalization of the SAARC Integrated Programme of Action (SIPA) so that it could be implemented. SIPA has envisioned formation of seven technical committees to cover seven economic areas from agricultural and rural development; communications and transport; and social development to environment, meteorology and forestry; science and technology; human resource development and energy.

Mr. Padma Jyoti, Former President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that South Asian governments should develop the region as a single market to attract foreign direct investment. Stressing on the need to simplify paperwork for cross-border movement of goods and people, Jyoti said, “Transport and transit are the main bottlenecks, which can only be removed if governments of member countries show commitment.”

Mr. Suraj Vaidya, President, SAARC CCI in his concluding remarks said that the three-day conclave concluded deliberated on  the means of common prosperity between SAARC nations, promotion of trade and investment within SAARC nations, economic and political setbacks, and the SAARC’s role in global economy along with the development and distribution of energy in the region, according to the organizers. Around 400 delegates from across South Asia are participating in the conclave.
Welcome address by Mr. Suraj Vaidya, President SAARC CCI at the inaugural program of
"6th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave"

SAARC Fashion Show “Threads of Hope”:

During 6th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave, SAARC CCI organized a vibrant fashion show titled 'Threads of Hope' on March 17th, 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The designers from South Asian countries featured the designs of their country wearing trends.

Bangladesh Bibiana's fashion designer, Ms. Lipi Khandaker incorporated rickshaw art motifs on khadi as part of their displayed collection.

Designer from Pakistan, Ms. Faiza Samee gave a tribute to the rich textile heritage of Pakistan and the Sub-continent. In keeping with Pakistani artisanal roots, the collection produced was entirely by hand using artisanal techniques such as block printing, and specialist embroideries, perfected over the last 37years.

From Afghanistan, Ms. Rohina Siddique and Ms. Rahiba Rahimi exhibited Afghan modern dresses featuring a fusion of traditional elements and more modern cuts, to revive the idea of Afghan culture and heritage.

Demi Couture designer brand INDI showcased a collection with traditional art Liyawel from the kingdom of Kandy to delicate laces of Beralu from the Portuguese influenced Ceylon era.  The collection was a representation of traditional ethnicity in modern silhouettes done by creative director Ms. Indi Yapa Abeywardena."

Bhutan’s top notch designers Ms. Chandrika Tamang and Chimmi Choden presented her eclectic collections on which the imprint of traditional crafts and the nation’s bond with nature was palpable. Her collection was inspired by the traditional textiles, enhanced by timeless silhouettes, straight lines and bold colors.

The Nepali fashion designer Ms. Anu Shrestha impressed the audience and set the stage on fire by presenting Nepali hand-woven dresses and hand painted silk. Similarly the veteran Indian designer, Ms. Schulen Fernandes showcased her beautiful collection of eco-friendly dresses.

The audiences highly applauded the innovative & creative work of the designers.

6th SBLC Fashion Show Event “Threads of Hope”

SAARC Bazar:

The 6th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave observed a three day trade fair named “SAARC Bazar” in Hayyat Regency Hotel, in Kathmandu, Nepal.  The fair comprised of the exhibitors from SAARC region displaying leather products, textile products and textile handicraft.

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