India reduces negative list for Saarc LDCs to 500

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New Delhi, Mar 3 (UNI) India today unilaterally reduced negative list of trade items from 744 to 500 for least developed countries (LDCs) of Saarc.

Making the announcement at the 3rd Safta Ministerial Council meeting presided over by him here, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said the notification, which would be effective from January 1, 2008, would be issued in a few months.

He said import duty on all items other than those in the negative list from LDCs has been reduced to zero.

Without making any commitment on reducing the list of sensitive items, Pakistan Commerce Secretary Asif Shah disclosed that the Council adopted report of Safta Committee of Experts (COE) which recommended pruning of sensitive lists by all member-countries of Saarc by 20 to 25 per cent. The COE made the recommendation after holding parleys for two days here on March 1-2.

Emphasising importance of trade in Services for which a regional study has been completed, Mr Kamal Nath said the Council today directed Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) to draft a Saarc framework agreement on trade in Services under Safta agreement.

The Council finalised the Draft Protocol for implementation of Safta agreement by Afghanistan paving the way for its formal entry into the regional trade body. It recommended to treat Afghanistan at par with Maldives as far as Mechanism for Compensation of Revenue Loss (MCRL) under Safta is concerned.

The 4th meeting of COE and Council would be held in Maldives on dates yet to be decided.

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