SAARC Summit agrees to revise sensitive list of items, NTBs

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Colombo, Aug 3 (UNI) The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit today decided to revise the sensitive list of items and Non-Trade Barriers (NTBs), which hinder effective trade liberalisation and economic integration of the region, while emphasising their commitment to South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA).

Expressing their commitment to the SAFTA in letter and spirit, a declaration issued by the leaders of the eight-member SAARC directed the Ministerial Council to take immediate steps to expedite the process of Asia's emergence as the ''powerhouse of the world''.

They also recommended that while revising the sensitive list, special consideration should be given to the Least Developed Countries (LDC) of the region. The SAFTA committee of experts has been asked to expeditiously resolve the issue of Non Tariff Measures (NTM) and Para Tariff Measures (PTM) to facilitate and enhance trade under the SAFTA.

The declaration covered a whole range of issues including steps to promote cooperation in science and technology, tourism, education and social development.

The summit was attended by Prime Ministers and heads of states of India, Afghanistan, Pakistan Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives, besides host Sri Lanka.

The leaders stressed the need for development of communication system and transport infrastructure facilities specially for the landlocked countries to promote Intra-SAARC trade.

They felt that access to energy is critical for growth and development. Escalation of oil prices has threatened energy security and the leaders recognised the need to build up renewable alternative energy resources including indigenous hydro, solar and wind power while introducing the energy reforms.

Referring to the road connectivity, the SAARC leaders decided to focus on better connectivity not only within South Asia but with the rest of the world.

UNI SMA RB AM SK RN1019

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