Singapore: An investment bank to manage the USD 1.3 trillion wealth of South Asian diaspora can help supplement the efforts of SAARC, says an expert.
It is felt that the importance of the grouping has been eroded over the years due to political differences across the region, he said.
This is part of the 'trilateralism idea' mooted by former Bangladesh Foreign Minister Iftekhar Chowdhury, at the second South Asian Diaspora Convention (SADC) in Singapore today.
Chowdhury said the bank could play a role in guiding South Asian diaspora investment, especially in the infrastructure sector, in the region which is a market of 1.8 billion people.
Chowdhury told PTI that the 38 million strong South Asian diaspora has an estimated wealth of USD 1.3 trillion and was looking at new investment opportunities.
The diaspora comprising 20 million Indians, 7 million Bangladeshi, 8 million Pakistanis and 3 million Sri Lankans, is estimated to save about USD 350 billion from their annual estimated earnings of USD 1 trillion.
Yesterday during his address at the SADC, Finance Minister P Chidambaram called on Indian diaspora to invest in India and be part of the country's prosperity in his speech at the SADC yesterday.
Chowdhury said it is the right time to channel that investment to the South Asian region, given the many politically-impeded challenges being faced by these investors in placing their money in this vast region.
He is currently a principal fellow at the Institute of South Asia Studies (ISAS), the organiser of the two-day SADC which ended today.
The proposed South Asian Diaspora Investment Bank could be located in one of the international financial centres - London, New York or Singapore.
Chowdhury pointed out that the bank's role would bring about a change in the politically-weakened SAARC and could give a big impetus to the regional organisation which has made little progress since its inception.
"While SAARC has weakened, we must get the business community to infuse new economically-driven energy into the organisation and the region,' Chowdhury said.
"There are too many opportunities in South Asia to be missed and we need to take measures to re-organise institutions like SAARC, especially with incentives such as investments by South Asian origin international business community,' he said.
He said the idea of trilateralism was to have greater cooperation between the three core South Asian countries - India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - as they have similar historical experiences and were a single political entity during the British Raj.
"..Unfortunately, certain colonial legacies fed conflict into their intramural relationships.
Elaborating, he said ?ndia would need to shoulder a disproportionate responsibility, being not the big but elder brother.
More than 1,000 delegates of South Asian origin attended the convention held Nov 21-22 in Singapore.
First Published: Friday, November 22, 2013, 12:56