ISLAMABAD: The Sixth Meeting of SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC was held here Thursday. Commerce & Trade Ministers of SAARC member states participated in the meeting and held talks on matters related to enhancement of intra-SAARC Trade.
The Ministers emphasized that for facilitation of trade in the region, the member states should reduce their respective Sensitive Lists under SAFTA. It was noted that Member States are in the process of reducing their Sensitive Lists. The meeting agreed that the Sensitive Lists may be further reduced in the coming years.
The Ministers appreciated that the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services has been signed by all the member states and work is being done on finalization of Schedule of Specific Commitments under the Agreement. They underscored the significance of services trade in the SAARC region.
The leaders stressed that the schedule of specific commitments under the services agreement should be finalized and notified.
The meeting also discussed obstacle to trade due to the presence of NTM/PTMs and decided that list of Non-Tariff Measures / Para Tariff Measures already submitted by Member States should be re examined. It is agreed that a special meeting of the Committee of Experts (COE will discuss the NTMs/PTM before forwarding it to the relevant organization to be resolved.
The leaders also agreed on further relaxation of SAARC visa regime. They underlined the fact that without free movement of people across the border in the SAFTA region, trade would not flourish in the region.
On Trade Liberalization Programme (TLP under SAFTA, the meeting discussed the matter of timely issuance of Customs notifications for implementation of TLP under SAFTA. The meeting emphasized that the Member States should issue their respective customs notifications at least for the year 2012. Realizing the importance of infrastructure in the SAARC region, the leaders emphasized the need for intra-regional connectivity through construction of road and rail and air networks.