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Maldives to host Fourth Meeting of SAFTA
Mar '08
Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, has called for a review of negative lists to expand trade in goods and enlarging the scope for further trade cooperation among SAARC countries.

India has unilaterally decided to reduce its negative list with reference to the Least developed Countries (LDCs) of SAARC from seven hundred and forty four to around five hundred and the necessary notification to this effect would be revised within a few months.

This was stated by Shri Kamal Nath while addressing the Third SAFTA Ministerial Council meeting. He said: “in keeping with our commitments, we have already notified the advancement of the trade liberalisation programme in respect to LDCs by one year and with effect from 1st January 2008, the import duty on all items other than those in the negative list has been reduced to zero”.

The Meeting was attended by Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma, Secretary General of SAARC; Shri G.K. Pillai, Commerce Secretary; and representatives from the SAARC region.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Kamal Nath emphasised that the SAARC region is broadly characterised by more or less similar developmental levels of member countries and the biggest challenge before us is the pursuit of economic development with inclusive growth.

He said that SAFTA is the first major step towards economic cooperation and integration within the region. “We all appreciate that the agreement is only the initial step and requires a continuous effort by all of us to improve and smoothen its implementation”, he added.

While drawing the attention of the participants, Shri Kamal Nath said that the regional study on Trade in Services has been completed, which would give government an opportunity for an effective services agreement amongst SAARC countries.

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