Three year business visa for SAARC region

SAARC Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President, Ajith Wathuhewa with SAARC Chamber of Commerce President Suraj Vaija.

A three year valid business visa will be introduced to the SAARC Region by the end of the year.

The newly appointed Senior Vice President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce, Ajith Wathuhewa said that currently SAARC Business Visa is being offered for six months. “We have observed that this is not adequate and now it has been decided to extend this for a period of three years which in turn will help to increase inter regional trade which is at a very low despite having one fifth of the world population in the world.”

Speaking further he said that tourist visa too was discussed and it was proposed to offer visa free short visit travel among the region. “This will be a reality from 2018 once again helping to increase travel among the region.”

Currently only Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal offer visa of arrival facility without prior registrations.

Wathuhewa, the immediate Past President of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that he persuaded the SAARC Development Fund to invest in a SAARC industrial Park in Sri Lanka.

The SAARC Region is full of high mineral and oil assets, agricultural and aqua resources and also high industrial manufacturing to world standards but trade among the region is far below potential. The SAARC countries also though situated in close proximity to each country have diversified resources and manufacturing. Though the region also has good air and sea connectively, several FTA’s among member countries, the intra-regional trade is around 6%.In contrast European Union Intra trade is around 60% and even in ASIAN it’s around 23%.

“This will be set up with the financial assistance of this fund and would enable all SAARC use this proposed facility which would offer many tax concessions when re exporting.”

“In addition the fund will provide assistance to set up a Green City in Badulla and a Smart city in Colombo.”

“I think the main reason for low trade in the region can also be attributed to non-tariff barriers and also may be a lack of a common currency for SAARC.These have been discussed for over a decade and it is still a dream.”

He also said that discussion on a single currency for the region too will be activated and this may be a reality by 2020. 


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