The 8th SAARC Finance Secretaries meeting took place in Islamabad today, Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Secretary General SAARC started the inaugural session with a welcome address to the participants.
Secretary Finance Dr. Waqar Massoud Khan was elected as the new Chairman of the SAARC Finance Secretaries meeting. Mr. Thapa thanked the Government of Pakistan for organizing the event in Pakistan and that too in an excellent manner.
In his address to the participants, Mr.Thapa, laid special emphasis on moving from South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) to South Asian Economic Union (SAEU), focus on customs-related trade facilitation measures, finalizing the draft on SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment, implementation of SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS), Avoidance of Double Taxation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and Transactions in Local Currencies.
After assuming the charge as the new chairman of the SAARC Finance Secretaries meeting, Secretary Finance Division, Dr.Waqar Massoud Khan said “Though, considerable progress has been made in some areas under the ambit of this meeting, many of the issues still need prioritized attention by the national governments. A lot of progress is still due on the Regional Economic Integration Study (Phase-II). There is need to focus on the priority areas as indentified by SAARC-ADB meetings that include Reduction and Removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and Para-Tariff Barriers (PTBs), Energy Cooperation, Trade Facilitation Measures, Investment Cooperation, Reduction on products in the Sensitive Lists, SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) and Improvement in Connectivity (rail, road, air, maritime) among Member States. The mechanism of the Special Meeting of SAARC-ADB, with the technical and financial support of ADB, is good to fine tune the prioritized areas as indicated in the Regional Economic Integration Study, with an aim to attain the target of the South Asian Economic Union.”
At the end of the meeting Dr. Waqar Massoud thanked the members of all delegations and said that the recommendations of the meeting will be submitted for consideration of the SAARC Finance Minister’s meeting tomorrow. He also hoped that the meeting will prove more useful than the earlier meetings of the SAARC member states.
Source: Ministry of Finance