H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) addressed the Special Meeting on Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) and Para-tariff Measures (PTMs) convened at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu today.
The Special Meeting brought together representatives of all the Member States of SAARC to discuss measures to dismantle all barriers to trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Agreement. Office bearers of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) were also present at the meeting.
Addressing the opening of the Special Meeting at the Secretariat, the Secretary-General said, “I am glad to note that the Seventh Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts (COE) held in Islamabad after the Seventeenth SAARC Summit, while considering matters relating to NTBs and PTBs, recommended that it would be necessary to hold a Special Meeting of the SAFTA COE on NTMs and PTMs. This meeting, I hope, will effectively address the objectives and concerns of the SAARC Leaders with regard to non-tariff and para-tariff barriers.”
The Special Meeting takes place in the lead up to the next meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council scheduled for 23 August 2013 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Council comprising Finance Ministers of SAARC Member States is the highest decision-making body of SAFTA and is responsible for its administration and implementation. The SAFTA Agreement signed on 6 January 2004 came into force with effect from 1 January 2006.
At the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in the Maldives in November 2011, SAARC Leaders had directed the SAFTA Ministerial Council to intensify efforts to fully and effectively implement SAFTA through early resolution of non-tariff barriers.
The Special Meeting was preceded by a Session of the Working Group on Reduction of Sensitive Lists under SAFTA at the SAARC Secretariat on 30 July 2013.