Afghanistan Envoy to India, Tahir Qadri: In response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for creating a robust strategy for SAARC nations, aiming at tackling #CoronavirusPandemic, I would like to acknowledge his call. United we stand, divided we fall!
Video Conference of senior trade officials of SAARC countries on dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on intra-regional trade
April 08, 2020
As follow up action of the announcement made by the Prime Minister at the Video Conference of SAARC Leaders on 15 March 2020, a video conference of senior trade officials, inviting all SAARC countries, was held on 8 April 2020 to discuss the impact of travel restrictions and the larger Covid-19 situation on intra-regional trade.
All SAARC countries, except Pakistan, participated in the video conference.
Demonstrating keen shared interest and a problem-solving approach in the present challenging circumstances, all countries contributed actively to the discussions on a wide-ranging trade related agenda. It was recognized that the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have a considerable adverse impact on trade in the SAARC region. In order for the countries to deal with the situation, it was stressed that new ways and means be jointly identified to sustain and expand the intra-regional trade until the normal trade channels are fully restored. The imperative need to maintain essential trade within the SAARC region was viewed as an important thrust area for favourable consideration.
Some specific issues addressed at the video conference included facilitation of trade through pragmatic solutions such as provisional clearance of imports at preferential duty with suitable conditions, provisional acceptance of digitally signed certificates of origin, acceptance of scanned copies of documents for clearance of imports by customs and release of payments by banks, resolving issues being faced for exports/imports at land customs stations on land border. Impact of health issues such as Covid-19 on regional trade and possible measures to mitigate it was seen as a new focus area for discussion in the larger framework of trade facilitation in the SAARC region. The need to enhance the quantum of intra SAARC trade was also highlighted.
Following a comprehensive discussion, all participating countries proposed to remain in close and regular touch through a designated focal point in each country. The Indian side offered to coordinate this exercise, which would also enable further interaction on ideas and proposed actions aimed at early restoration of normal trade in the region after the movement restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 crisis are lifted.
April 08, 2020
Media reports of Pakistan
Pakistan pledges $3m for SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund.
Pakistan April 09, 2020
Being a founding member, Pakistan considers SAARC an important platform for regional cooperation
#Pakistan on Wednesday boycotted the virtual conference of trade officials from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (#SAARC), saying such meetings could only be effective if spearheaded by the group’s secretariat instead of #India..
The Government of Pakistan has pledged $3 million towards the SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund to support regional efforts in the fight against the pandemic, the Foreign Office (FO) said Thursday.
In a statement, the FO said: “While communicating Pakistan’s decision to the SAARC Secretariat, it has been conveyed that all proceeds of the fund should be administered by the SAARC Secretariat and that the modalities for the fund’s utilisation should be finalised through consultations with the member states as per the SAARC Charter.”
“Pakistan’s perspective in this regard was also conveyed during a telephone conversation between Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Secretary General SAARC Esala Ruwan Weerakoon.
Being a founding member of the association, Pakistan considers SAARC an important platform for regional cooperation.
Meanwhile,it also remains committed to the SAARC process and will continue working with the Member States to strengthen regional cooperation, the FO added.
On Wednesday, Pakistan had refused to participate in a SAARC virtual conference of trade officials, stating that such meetings should have been led by the group’s secretariat instead of India.
The meeting of trade officials from eight-member SAARC was convened to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in the region and how the forum could come up with a common strategy.
“Activities such as today’s trade officials’ video conference could only be effective if spearheaded by the SAARC secretariat. Since the secretariat was not part of today’s video conference, Pakistan chose not to participate,” the FO’s statement read.
“At a time when the region is facing unprecedented challenges, all the available institutional frameworks must be optimally utilised,” it added.