Islamabad, Pakistan (BBN)– A shift from the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) to South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) was emphasised at the inaugural session of the Eighth SAARC Finance Secretaries Meeting here on Thursday.
Finance Secretary Waqar Massoud Khan, who was elected as the new chairman of SAARC Finance Secretaries meeting, said considerable progress has been made in some areas under the group’s ambit but many issues still need prioritised attention by the national governments, reports DAWN.
Mr. Khan said a lot of progress is still due on the second phase of the Regional Economic Integration Study. There is need to focus on priority areas as identified by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and Asian Development Bank (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, SATIS and improvement in rail, road, air and maritime connectivity 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 prioritised areas as indicated in the Regional Economic Integration Study, with an aim to attain the target of the SAEU, he said.
Dr Khan said recommendations of the meeting will be submitted for consideration of the SAARC Finance Minister’s meeting on Friday.