New Delhi, Sep. 16 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation should take adequate cognisance of the economies of the neighbourhood to attain its full potential.
Speaking on the occasion of the 25th anniversary observation of the organisation at a function organised here, S.M. Krishna pointed out that a fundamental objective of SAARC was "to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life" and to achieve this objective, it was necessary to work towards enabling freer movement of goods and services.
Krishna also informed that the implementation of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) in 2006 was a significant milestone in this effort. Intra-regional trade in South Asia has begun to grow and has doubled over the past 5 years.
The intra-SAARC exports have doubled in last 25 years, reflecting the growing importance of the region for the overall trade of its Member States.
Krishna felt that the signing of the SAARC Agreement on Trade and Services earlier this year would be able to strengthen economic cooperation in the region further by expanding intra-regional investment and production opportunities.
India has ratified this Agreement and early ratification of this Agreement by other member states will give a boost to realising the full potential of trade in services in the region,
While projects and corridors for increasing physical connectivity in the region have been prioritised on the basis of the SAARC Regional Multi-modal Transport Study, we are yet to see implementation of these projects on the ground. Efforts to negotiate regional Agreements on Motor Vehicles and Railways have also not yet succeeded. Progress in these areas is critical for taking forward intra-regional economic cooperation.
For climate change being an another challenge Krishna said the SAARC Convention on Cooperation on Environment signed in the Thimphu Summit provides a strong basis for taking forward cooperation in this field.
"I am glad that SAARC countries are working together to present a common position to the 16th Conference of Parties Meeting in Cancun later this year. However, there are more pressing needs of adaptation and capacity building for our member countries in the region. To meet those urgent needs, India has announced an initiative to create an 'India Endowment for Climate Change'," said Krishna.
To help meet the urgent requirements of shortfall in foodgrains in member countries efforts have been made, through the creation of a SAARC Food Ban.
"I am glad that the quantum of foodgrains in this Bank has now been doubled to four hundred and eighty six thousand metric tonnes. The last Summit in Thimphu also agreed on establishing a Regional Seed Bank to improve the quality of seeds available to farmers in our countries," said Krishna.
"I am particularly pleased at the progress achieved in the establishment of a South Asian University(SAU) here in Delhi," said Krishna.
The academic session of the SAU has just begun on August 26 with two initial courses having participation of 50 students from all across the region.
Krishna also urged people to think boldly but realistically and to come out with concrete suggestions for the enhanced dynamism of the South Asian region in the near future. (ANI)