Improved connectivity urged to boost trade within Saarc

Kathmandu

Jul 24, 2014-

Commerce Minister Sunil Bahadur Thapa on Thursday urged the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to develop transit and transport connectivity.

Speaking at the eighth meeting of the Safta Ministe-rial Council in Thimphu, Bhutan, he said an increase in connectivity could ensure free flow of goods and people across the region to boost intra-regional trade.

Thapa stressed the need for an early completion of the Saarc Regional Multimodal Transport Study and effective implementation of its recommendations. The study has focused on improvement and upgradation of regional and sub-regional railways and road networks.

The minister also urged an early conclusion to the Saarc Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment. The accord is expected to make a substantial contribution to promoting private investment in the region. Utilising the enormous potentialities in hydropower, tourism, agro and forest-based industries, health, education, information technology are among the areas that Thapa said the member countries should pursue for mutual benefit.

He also emphasized the need to speed up the process of intra-regional economic cooperation by maintaining balanced trade in the region.

“Reducing sensitive lists and eliminating non-tariff and para-tariff barriers should be the top priority of Saarc,” he said.

The least developed countries like Nepal have been facing a shortage of physical and technical infrastructure, weak legal instruments and poor human resources to facilitate their foreign trade. In this context, Thapa sought the help of other member countries to develop trade-related infrastructure and simplify transfer of goods.

“An improvement in infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports, accredited laboratories and ICT are some of the major areas where we should focus our attention,” he said.

Thapa also urged developing mutual recognition agreements on product certification, harmonizing customs procedures and simplifying rules of origin requirements.

Thapa also emphasized the need for an early finalization of the Saarc agreement on motor vehicles and Saarc agreement on railways so that they could be signed during the Saarc summit scheduled for Nov 11-12 in Kathmandu.

The meeting decided to hold the ninth meeting of the Safta Ministerial Council in Afghanistan in 2015, stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release.

Published: 25-07-2014 09:17

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