Ishaq Dar addresses 9th informal meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Finance Ministers

Baku, May 04, 2015 (PPI-OT): Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar while addressing the 9th Informal meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers here emphasized the need of regional connectivity for Economic growth of the region. He encouraged all the countries to work together for the betterment of the people.

The Minister said that in the present era, regional integration had provided opportunities to make progress by addressing the problems of energy shortage, mobility constraints for lagging and landlocked regions and high transaction costs. He said that South Asia remained a highly protected region in the world in terms of regional integration. Intra-regional trade in SAFTA remained only 5% of its total world trade while in European Union it was 65%, in NAFTA 51% and in ASEAN 25%.

Dar said South Asian countries had opened their doors to the rest of the world but there was lack of market integration and weak connectivity within the region. The demand for infrastructure, particularly electricity, was growing rapidly in the region as the economies modernized and shifted resources from agriculture to industry The Minister called for Implementation of Trade Liberalization Programme (TLP) under SAFTA and added that number of products covered in the sensitive lists of member states should be reduced further.

Dar said Pakistan was already following a liberalized Foreign Exchange regime with respect to investment. Other member states should also liberalize it to promote investment within the region. Finance Minister on this occasion also expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of life and property in Nepal due to the earthquake. He said people of Pakistan shared the grief of the Nepalese people and the Pakistan government was extending all possible help for relief activities.

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