In the present era of changing global dynamics, the regional economies need to work in close collaboration with each other. The mutual cooperation among regional stakeholders not only ensures strong multilateral ties but also enhances the shared objectives of long term peace and stability among the nations.
The organisation of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the forum of eight countries in South Asia that are bound by ties of shared history and culture. SAARC is a tangible manifestation of its member states to promote peace, stability, amity and progress in the region through strict adherence to principles of territorial integrity, sovereign equality, non-use of force, national independence and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Though SAARC commenced its journey with limited areas of cooperation, its ambit of cooperation continued to expand over the years. Regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC today covers areas, such as, poverty alleviation, economic and trade, agriculture, education, energy, culture, regional connectivity, infrastructure development, climate change, investment, finance, security, disaster risk reduction and management, fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, and promotion of people-to-people contacts and tourism, among others.
SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme became operational in 1992 is seen as an important milestone for enhancing people-to-people contacts. This is indeed a forum to further strengthen relations for better reach and development. Economic integration is also one of the aspects of such developments.
Deeper economic integration can help sustain growth rate by creating an integrated South Asian market ensuring a free flow of goods, services and capital. The destiny of South Asian nations today is to either swim together or risk sinking separately in the battle against poverty and unemployment as well as in meeting the challenges of the environment, national security, and globalisation. This is how the whole region can progress with better and positive outcomes. Such forums and entities should focus on post covid scenarios to help out Regional countries so to deal with the financial constraints.