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SAARC trade officials decide to work on larger framework for boosting intra-region trade; Pak skips


New Delhi, Apr 08: Trade officials of the SAARC countries except Pakistan on Wednesday held a video conference, deliberating on creating a larger framework of trade facilitation to offset an adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the region.

SAARC trade officials decide to work on larger framework for boosting intra-region trade; Pak skips

It was stressed in the conference that new ways and means be identified to "sustain and expand" the intra-regional trade until the normal trade channels are fully restored, the Ministry of External Affairs said. At an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on March 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested that the member nations of the bloc should come together to jointly fight against the pandemic.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a grouping comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

"All SAARC countries, except Pakistan, participated in the video conference," the MEA said about the deliberations among the trade officials. The officials discussed specific issues like facilitation of trade through pragmatic solutions in view of the pandemic.

The MEA said the need to maintain essential trade within the region was viewed as an important thrust area, adding the officials deliberated on having larger framework of trade facilitation in the region.

"Some specific issues addressed at the video conference included facilitation of trade through pragmatic solutions such as provisional clearance of imports at preferential duty with suitable conditions, provisional acceptance of digitally signed certificates of origin," the MEA said in a statement.

It said the pragmatic solutions examined at the conference also included acceptance of scanned copies of documents for clearance of imports by customs and release of payments by banks and resolving issues being faced for exports and imports at land customs stations. All the SAARC member nations are reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.

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