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Date: 15-10-2016

DHAKA - President Md. Abdul Hamid has underscored the need for taking more effective and coordinated steps for establishing a more dynamic and emerging South Asia, saying that there is unexploited potential to reap benefits through intra-regional economic cooperation.

"As this region is looking outward to benefit from the increasing global flows of capital and trade, there is also unexploited potential for reaping benefits from intra-regional economic cooperation within South Asia," said the President while addressing the opening session of the Ninth South Asia Economic Summit (SAES IX) at a city hotel today.

"We want a
South Asia, where there will be no poverty, where there will be opportunities for decent jobs and decent work, where distribution will be just and governance will be participatory, and where people will live in harmony with nature. We need to generate the needed knowledge and evidence to achieve these ambitions," said the President.

He said
Bangladesh under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has achieved remarkable success in meeting many of the key MDG targets and economic and social indicators. These relate to significant acceleration in the GDP growth rate, impressive poverty reduction, reduction in child mortality, high education enrolment and strengthening of gender empowerment, he added.

President Hamid said the "Agenda 2030" adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, of which
Bangladesh is also a signatory, now offers Bangladesh new opportunities to consolidate, further accelerate and enhance these achievements over the course of the next 15 years.

"We firmly believe that close cooperation with South Asian neighbouring countries will help us in implementation of the SDG goals and targets," he added.

Bangladesh has now set her ambition to graduate from a lower middle- income to an upper middle-income country over the next few years, the President said, adding that the close cooperation with the regional neighbouring countries in various areas can contribute to achieving the goals set by the government in this regard.

Terming the theme of SAES IX "Reimagining South
Asia in 2030" as very timely and pertinent, President Hamid said this theme is related with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Bangladesh firmly believes that deepening of South Asian cooperation and regional integration could be effective tools in helping the countries and people of the region to attain the SDG targets, he added.

"I am hopeful that you will be able to come up with solutions from which policymakers can take guidance and use recommendations of SAES IX for taking concrete policy initiatives and practical steps towards sustainable development. We understand that economic prosperity is a key to a peaceful
South Asia," the President said.

Organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) with its Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan in the chair, the opening session was also addressed by PM's International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi, Minister of Special Assignments of Sri Lanka Dr Sarath Amunugama, Commerce Minister of Nepal Romi Gauchan Thakali, member of the National Assembly of Pakistan Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, Emeritus Professor of Economics of Jawaharlal Nehru University of India Professor Deepak Nayyar and Executive Director of CPD Professor Mustafizur Rahman.

Dr Gowher Rizvi in his speech emphasized on advancing regional cooperation and integration for addressing the emerging challenges in the areas of economic development of the countries and socioeconomic advancement of the people of
South Asia.

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