Nepal has stressed on broader connectivity among the SAARC nations to increase intra-regional trade.
Speaking at the fifth SAARC Finance Ministers’ meeting in Dhaka yesterday, finance minister Barsha Man Pun said that closer economic integration in the SAARC region can only be achieved by strengthening physical infrastructure especially by developing roads and rail corridors between and among the SAARC member states.
"Thimphu SAARC summit had underscored the need for collaborative efforts to achieve greater intra-regional connectivity,” he reminded, adding that the year 2010-2020 has also been declared as the ‘Decade of Intra-regional Connectivity in SAARC’. "The region needs to work harmoniously for closer economic integration in terms of monetary and fiscal measures like currency convertibility, common custom union, harmonisation of standards, and reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers, and most importantly investment promotion in key economic sectors in the region for the common goal."
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hashina was the chief guest for the inaugural session of the meeting that discussed more efficient, focused, time-bound and people centric activities for the tangible benefits to more than 1.5 billion people of the region.
"SAARC Development Fund is a manifestation of the commitment to move SAARC process forward, with project based approach, so that the region will be able to deliver direct benefits to its people," he said, stressing the need for early operationalisation of the economic and infrastructure windows of the Fund.South Asia is suffering from energy deficit to sustain economic growth rate, he said, adding, "to meet the ever increasing energy demand, a comprehensive and holistic approach is required for the development of renewable and alternative sources of energy available in the region."
He also urged to speed up the concept of ‘SAARC Energy Ring’ and the regional energy trade, studied by SAARC Experts Group and come out with concrete projects proposals for implementation.
During the 17th SAARC Summit in Addu, Maldives, the leaders have promised to chart out a proposal for greater flow of financial capital and intra-regional long-term investments and the finance ministers also emphasised on the intra-regional trade that is very low at present.
Nepal-Bangladesh bilateral trade
KATHMANDU: Nepal has asked for tariff concession for apple, pulse and mostly agriculture products with Bangladesh. “Bangladesh has offered some duty facilities to Bhutan and it can be replicated in the case of Nepal too,” Bangladeshi finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said, adding that Kathmandu has also asked Dhaka to join it as equity partner in a power generation plant. "We discussed flood control management and energy cooperation in the meeting," he said. "Bangladesh is planning to allow Nepali trucks to go up to Mongla Port to facilitate trade. Now the trucks can enter 200 metres inside Bangladesh territory. Bangladesh and Nepal have necessary infrastructure for transit but a 17-km slice of Indian territory between the two borders lies in dilapidated condition. India informed Bangladesh it has negotiations with Nepal and Bhutan to finalise routes, and New Delhi will take necessary action in line with our recommendations." The minister, however, said it is not possible to provide transit facility without improving infrastructure.