Keynote Speech by Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Member of Parliament and Chairperson of GP Koirala Foundation Hon. Sujata Koirala for Virtual Horasis India Meeting on June 22, 2020.

 

 

  • I would like to thank for the invitation as a key note speaker in Virtual Horasis India Meeting 2020, and thank you for the initiative to explore the importance of South Asia and regional cooperation.

 

  • South Asia is a home of one fourth of humanity. It is a home of earliest civilization of the world. Great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikh, Jain and number of other different sects, ideas, philosophies, languages were emerged and developed in the region. The other great religion Islam and Christianity with their different versions are co-existed in South Asia making the region a vibrant civilization.

 

  • For the purpose of development trustable and peaceful relationship among the neighboring states, SAARC was established. But the role and contribution of SAARC is not satisfactory.

 

  • In this Meeting I’m going to deliver my views on following issues like:

 

  • How the trade cooperation supports to minimize the other differences among the SAARC countries?

 

 (b) What are the security and political obstacles occurring in trade among SAARC states?

 

(c) What are the bilateral conflicts of SAARC?

 

 (d) What are the promotional measures to trade elaborated by the agreements of SAARC?

 

  • Specially, to promote the free trade, South Asian Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA) was formed and later it was changed into South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). Principally, these were good concepts but practically it fails to touch the spirit of the agreement because of various reasons.

 

 

There are some Barriers towards trade among SAARC.

 

  • Security and Democracy Issues causes the obstruction on smooth flow of SAARC such as,

 

 Crisis in Nepal. 

 

The political system of Nepal was internally challenged by Maoists Insurgency (1996 to 2006). Maoists had tried to establish their control over 40% of territory of Nepal, The Deuba government failed to improve the law and order situation and tackle the Maoist rebels which in return gave King Gyanendra a pretext to take over the administration in Nepal.  It ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord on 2006 in the leadership of Former Prime Minister and President of Nepali Congress Party Girija Prasad Koirala. Its effect was directly reflected in development of industrial sectors.

 

(b) Inadequate Security Environment and Two Sided Conflicts and Tensions.

 

South Asian countries like Nepal, Afganistan, Pakistan, India, Bangaladesh, Sri Lanka suffered from various conflict and targeted by violence group so the investment environment was degraded. There was terrorism threat in the region, therefore financial activities fallen in shadow along the region.

Similarly, bilateral conflict between made slow the trade activities and reduced the favorable environment for mutual trust.

 

In my view the possible ways to promote the

Cooperation,

 

  • South Asian leadership should give primacy to economic issues and not allow political differences to stand in the way of regional trade cooperation.

 

  • SAARC members could also think of establishing a regional liquidity arrangement to guard against any future liquidity crisis, with India taking the lead with its large foreign exchange reserves.

 

  • Establishing mega industrial project with equal investment and participation of each members of SAARC to produce new innovative products and supplying them worldwide can bring close together to all south Asian countries. Additionally, to balance the trade deficit India can encourage import the products from neighboring country.

 

  • India is a largest market and big population in comparison to other south Asian countries, so most of the multinational company put their first priority to India to establish the manufacturing and production based industries. For a business company establishing a production factory in a big country and supply to the smaller country is more profitable than to establish factory in small country and supply to bigger population country. Hence, India should create proper export-import environment among South Asian countries to explore the trade activities based on win-win cooperation.

 

  • South Asia would do well to adopt the open regional approach followed in East Asia. South Asia followed inward-looking policies for a long time, and has been a latecomer to the concept of regional cooperation. And this inward-looking mind-set is still visible in the region’s approach to regionalism.

 

  • Additionally, I specially request to India to facilitate the connectivity of Nepal and Bangaladesh. Though Bangladesh has constructed adequate infrastructures for a land port at Banglabandh, lack of proper management in Phulbari, growth in export-import trade between Nepal and Bangladesh is not gearing up. It would better for trilateral connectivity opening the Fulbari transit road between Nepal, India and Bangladesh, which would facilitate Nepal’s access to sea. To satisfy its power demand, Bangladesh has floated plans to import around 9,000 megawatts electricity from Nepal over the course of a decade.

 

  • India’s Role.

 

India is fastest growing country economically & digitally so it has key role to lead the south Asian countries. During & post Covid-19 order has undergone drastic change and the World will definitely move into a new phase with a new beginning. I urge all nations of this region for a  major structural changes as new regionalism which can create better understanding and mutual cooperation among us that deepens the relations one family one SAARC. When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, he gave a renewed push to the efforts towards an integrated neighborhood by launching the ‘Neighborhood First’ approach towards South Asia and demonstrated greater political will to shape the emerging security and economic dynamics in the region. So let us all neighbors be in the top priority for building better, safe, peace, secured and economic growth. Let us all unite for a New Regional approach which can set up an example to the New World of post Covid-19.

 

Thank you so much all of you for your important time.

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