SAFTA ministerial council moot on Feb 16


As Pakistan and India, attempt to normalise their trade relations, an important meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC) to promote trade of goods and services within the region will be held here on February 16.
An official source said the meeting is likely to be attended by all the commerce ministers of the contracting states. SMC is the highest decision-making body of SAFTA and is responsible for the administration and implementation of the agreement and all decisions and arrangements made within its legal framework.
SMC meets at least once every year or more often as and when considered necessary by the contracting states. Each contracting state chairs the SMC for a period of one year on rotational basis in alphabetical order.
To finalise the agenda for the meeting an expert group on SAARC agreement on trade in services on Monday discussed the schedules of specific commitments by each member country on services to be traded in the region. A statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce said the meeting reviewed status of ratification of SAARC agreement on trade in services, negotiations on schedules of specific commitments, including initial request list, election of chairperson, dates and venue of next meeting of expert group on SAARC agreement and adoption of current agenda and report.
The agreement on trade in services was signed during the 16th SAARC summit held at Thimphu, Bhutan on April 28-29, 2010. The aim of the agreement is to open up new vistas of trade cooperation and to further deepen the integration of the regional economies.
It was decided that the meeting on SAFTA Committee of Experts (COE) will be held on February 14 and 15 to discuss matters related to sensitive list, trade liberalisation programme and non-tariff barriers. COE monitors, reviews and facilitates implementation of the provisions of SAFTA and undertakes any task assigned to it by SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC).