In order to achieve deeper integration and move towards South Asian Economic Union (SAEU), Finance Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Friday, emphasized on strengthening regional trade through full and expeditious implementation of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).
It will also bring down tariffs, eliminate non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and para-tariff barriers (PTBs), reduce sensitive lists for enhanced intra-regional trade under SAFTA.
Finance Ministers and Heads of Delegations at platform of the 8th Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers further pressed on accelerating the process towards South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) in a phased and planned manner as mentioned in the Declaration of 18th SAARC Summit.
Ensuring implementation of decisions recommended by the Member States at various SAARC mechanisms in order to realize the goals of SAARC Charter to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.
The meeting also called for operationalization of the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services without further delay by finalizing the schedules of specific Commitments, as well as Finalization of the Text of the SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments; Initiate discussion on widening the scope of SAARC Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. The meeting emphasized the need for harmonization of customs procedures and documentations in the region to facilitate movement of goods across the borders.
Underlined the need for the improved connectivity in the region through land, sea and air routes as well as early signing of Motor Vehicle and Railways Agreements.
Strengthen Social Window and operationalize Economic and Infrastructure windows of SAARC Development Fund (SDF) so that tangible benefits are visible on the ground. Enhanced intra-regional investments with a view to bridge the large infrastructure financing gap in the region;
Meeting also considered that report of the Eighth Meeting of the SAARC Finance Secretaries which held on Thursday here as well as reviewed the progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the Seventh Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers held in Kathmandu last year.
The Meeting noted with satisfaction that considerable progress has been made on the recommendations of the Seventh Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers. The Meeting also thanked SAARC Secretariat for providing excellent services for meeting documentation.
The Meeting also requested member states to expedite operationalization of the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services by finalizing the schedules of specific Commitments, finalization Text of the SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments and initiate discussion on widening the scope of SAARC Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
Finance Ministers also discussed the minutes of 10th Informal Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers held in May this year in Frankfurt and noted the recommendations contained in the Records of the said meeting. The delegation from Afghanistan offered to host the Ninth Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers in Kabul in 2017, dates for which will be communicated through SAARC Secretariat.