7th meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Finance Ministers concludes

Kathmandu, August 20, 2015 (PPI-OT): Pakistan on Thursday received the honour to host the 8th meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar during course of the 7th meeting held here offered to hold the next meeting in Pakistan which was approved by all the participants with consensus.

The Finance Minister in his country statement at the 7th SAARC Finance Ministers’ Meeting, at the outset, paid condolences for the loss of precious lives and properties of the people of Nepal in the recent earthquake. He said the people and Government of Pakistan wished to be among the first ones to reach out to the Nepalese friends, and resolve to remain associated in rehabilitation and reconstruction work.

The Minister said the South Asian region is endowed with vast natural and human resources. He said global trade statistics reveal that while the volume of trade among the SAARC states and the rest of the world is increasing, intra-regional trade remains far below its potential. We have, therefore, to evolve mechanism to incentivize formal trade among the SAARC member countries. “In this context, I would like to re-emphasize the need for a gradual reduction and eventual elimination of Tariffs, Para-tariffs and Non-tariff barriers so as to allow freer trade amongst the SAARC states”, the Minister remarked.

The Minister said nothing would promote regional integration more than projects of regional connectivity, not limited merely to enable movement of goods and services but also sharing of natural resources and enhancing the proximity of regional countries to access those resources. He added that in this regard, Pakistan is very keen to build the Inter-state pipeline known as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI).

This would be an example of affording enhanced proximity of the member states to natural resources of the region. Yet another project of regional integration we have undertaken relates to the transmission of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan known as CASA-1000, which will provide 1300 MW of electricity, Dar stated. He said more importantly we are working with China on the concept of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would open up the central Asian region by building roads, railways and, consequently, the enhanced trade potential of the region.

Ishaq Dar went on to say that having achieved satisfactory macro-economic stability, currently we are promoting higher inclusive economic growth leading to more job opportunities in Pakistan and would happily share our experience with other member countries. The Minister said promotion of peace in the region is very important. Pakistan is contributing to regional peace and we have given a very high cost both in blood and treasure. We have sacrificed tens of thousands of precious human lives in the war on terror which has also resulted in economic losses of over US$ 100 billion, the Minister said.

Minister Dar said Capital flows especially foreign Direct Investment across SAARC region can accelerate economic growth through technology transfer and skills acquisition. In order to boost intra-regional capital flows, the first step would be to liberalize our financial sector regimes even further, he added.

The Minster on behalf of Pakistan delegation, extended heartfelt thanks to Government and people of Nepal for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the 7th SAARC Finance Ministers meeting despite recent earthquakes in Nepal.

Earlier in the morning, Mr. Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal inaugurated the 7th Meeting by lighting of traditional oil lamp. Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister of Finance, Nepal presented the Welcome remarks while the Inaugural address was delivered by hon’ble Mr. Sushil Koirala. Heads of various delegations thereafter had official photograph session with the Prime Minister and later made a joint call on him.

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