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Implementation of SAFTA stressed to attain economic development

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Implementation of SAFTA stressed to attain economic development
Implementation of SAFTA stressed to attain economic development

Kathmandu,13 Nov 2014: The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is yet to prove its dynamism though it is about to celebrate thirty years of its inception, economists said.  The SAARC established with the objective of attaining regional prosperity has not made such a stride in the sector of economic progress as per expectations of the people in region.Taking part in an interaction programme on economic agenda that Nepal has to raise during the upcoming SAARC Summit organised by IBN Media and Research here today, the participants expressed concerns over unabated poverty in the South Asia and a growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

Agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) has not been fully implemented due to the rift between India and Pakistan.  Lack of removal of non-tariff barriers and reduction in a long list of sensitive goods has caused obstructions in implementing the SAFTA, they stated, expressing worries over no headway towards the implementation of ambitious declarations like establishing the SAARC Customs Union by 2015 AD and bringing a common currency into use by 2020 AD.

Prime Minister’s economic advisor Dr Chiranjibi Nepal stressed the need of connecting the SAARC countries with road network and other channels to expand trade and commerce sector. Expansion of trade sector and creation of employment opportunities are essential to reduce poverty in the region. He expressed his hope that a concrete move will be taken to that end now.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, the major partner of SAARC, invited the heads of state and governments of SAARC member countries to his swearing-in ceremony, giving the message of regional unity, he said, adding that he was hopeful that onwards SAARC would go ahead dynamically. The SAARC countries are encouraged with Indian PM’s public statement for settling bilateral issues in the region through negotiations and talks, he said.

Former Finance Minister Shankar Koirala suggested that Nepal should focus on the mobilization of SAARC Fund on economic and infrastructure development.

Similarly, former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission, Dr Shankar Sharma, said an agreement on operation of vehicles going to be made during the upcoming SAARC Summit would help promote the country’s tourism sector.

IBN Executive Director Hridayraj Gautam said fifty percent population in SAARC region depended on agriculture and the collective efforts were a must for the development of the entire region.

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