SAARC-ADB Second Special Meeting on Regional Economic Integration (Phase-II)
The SAARC-ADB Second Special Meeting on Regional Economic Integration Study-Phase II (REI-II), held in Malé, Maldives on 27-28 January 2016, was held in follow up to the First Special Meeting on REI-II and discussed progress in implementation of priority recommendations included in the study.
- Provided an implementation status update in the SAARC member states for 7 priority recommendations, including reduction/removal of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and para-tariff barriers (PTBs); energy cooperation; trade facilitation measures; investment cooperation; reduction of products in sensitive lists; the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS); and connectivity improvement (in rail, road, air and maritime sectors);
- Emphasized that the capacity of the SAARC Secretariat in handling NTBs and PTBs be strengthened;
- Discussed the role of Customs in trade facilitation through presentations delivered by representatives from Customs departments of SAARC countries. Issues discussed include the exchange of documents at border-crossing points (BCPs), institutionalization of regular border meetings at major BCPs, automation of transit processes, and harmonization/ simplification of Customs procedures, practices and documentation;
- Noted progress of projects in transport connectivity and trade facilitation under the SASEC program, and agreed that recommendations of the SASEC Customs Subgroup be implemented by SAARC members as part of trade facilitation measures;
- Agreed on priority actions and associated timelines for implementation of the 7 recommendations in the REI-II study. The delegations also agreed to consider actions being taken by other SAARC bodies, such as the SAARC Working Group on Energy, in coming up with agreed priority actions and timeline;
- Agreed that meetings be held every 6-8 months to review implementation of the priority recommendations of the REI-II study, and welcomed the offer of Pakistan to host the Third Special Meeting on REI-II, with a focus on transport connectivity.
The Meeting was attended by representatives of Commerce and Finance Ministries of SAARC Member States. Heading the delegations were Mr. Ahmad Tariq Mateen, Head of Regional Trade Agreements, Directorate of Multilateral Trade Agreements, General Directorate of International Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Afghanistan; Mr. Moinul Islam, Additional Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh; Ms. Pem Zam, Senior Trade Officer, Trade Negotiations Division, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Bhutan; Mr. A. Amarnath, First Secretary, High Commission of India (in Malé), India; Mr. Ibrahim Yoosuf Fulhu, Executive Coordinator, Ministry of Economic Development, Maldives; Mr. Arjun Raj Pant, Under Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Nepal; Mr. Taimur Tajammal, Joint Secretary (FT.III), Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan; and Mr. D.G.A.P. Dharmapriya, Director of Commerce (Head of Regional Affairs), Department of Commerce, Sri Lanka. Mr. Ibrahim Yoosuf Fulhu of the Maldives was elected Chairperson of the Meeting.