"Let's make it even easier for our businesses through a SAARC Business Traveller Card," Modi said in his address to leaders at the 18th SAARC Summit.

Noting that SAARC nations have failed to move with the expected speed, he said, "today, less than five per cent of the region's global trade takes place between us. Even at this modest level, less than 10 per cent of the region's internal trade takes place under SAARC Free Trade Area."

MUST READ: Highlights: PM Modi addresses SAARC Summit

Infrastructure is the region's "greatest weakness and its most pressing need", he said, adding it is harder to travel within the region than to Bangkok or Singapore.

According highest priority to infrastructure development, Modi said the proposed Special Purpose Facility would help in funding projects in the region. Touching upon ease of doing business in India, Modi underlined the need for extending the same to SAARC region.

"I promise to ensure that our facilities at the border will speed up, not slow down, trade. Let's all make our procedures simple, our facilities better, our standards common and our paper work less burdensome," he said.

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The Prime Minister said that goods travel from one Punjab to the other Punjab through Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai and Karachi making the journey eleven times longer and the cost four times higher.

Admitting that India, too, has its share of responsibility, because of its size and location, Modi said, "I know that many of your goods, too, have to do a Parikrama of India to reach their destinations".

"We must shrink the distance between our producers and consumers and use the most direct routes of trade. I know India has to lead, and we will do our part. I hope, each of you will, too," he said.

The Prime Minister emphasised that nowhere in the world are collective efforts more urgent than in South Asia and "nowhere else is it so modest."

Even though Indian companies are investing billions abroad, Modi said that less than one per cent of it flows into the SAARC region.

"We will address your concerns and give you a level-playing field in India. But, I encourage you to attract Indian investments to produce for the Indian market and create jobs for your youth.

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"I also look to a future when your companies can easily raise funds in India for investments at home; and, when we have cross-border industrial corridors, so that we can take advantage of the natural synergies and connected lives in our border states," the Prime Minister said.

To boost trade activities among member countries, Modi said India would now give business visa for 3-5 years for SAARC.

Talking about various efforts and initiatives with SAARC countries, Modi said India would soon launch a new arrangement to meet Maldives' need for oil.

"India and Bangladesh have deepened their links through rail, road, power and transit," he said, adding that a new era of co-operation in energy has started with Nepal.

"Distance and difficulties have not held back India and Afghanistan... And, bus and train sustain contacts between people in India and Pakistan," the Prime Minister said.

India has given five South Asian partners duty free access to 99.7 percent of their goods and prepared to do more with others, he added.

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"For India, it has been a privilege to provide assistance of nearly 8 billion US dollars in South Asia over a decade. It may not seem a great amount in these times, but we are grateful for the opportunity to have made a difference to the lives of a few brothers and sisters in our region," Modi said.

According to Modi, India's vision for the SAARC region rests on five pillars trade, investment, assistance, cooperation in every area, contacts between our people through seamless connectivity.

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