CoE meet termed ‘successful’

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 28:

The eighth round of talks of Committee of Experts (CoE) on South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement that concluded yesterday in Kathmandu took up all the four outstanding issues of sensitive lists, rules of origin, mechanism for compensation of revenue loss and technical assistance to the LDC member states, says a press release issued by SAARC Secretariat, today. “The meeting was quite successful compared to previous meetings at sorting out differences to proceed towards SAFTA implementation,” said Prachanda Man Shrestha, joint secretary at the ministry of industry, commerce and supplies. “Though remaining issues are yet to be sorted out, we in general, agreed to implement SAFTA agreement within the earlier-agreed timeframe,” he said, “Any difficulties regarding the unresolved issues in course of implementing SAFTA will be resolved at bilateral or multilateral negotiations.”

During the meeting, delegations from seven South Asian countries agreed to finalise the sensitive lists through complete bilateral negotiations at its next meeting, scheduled for June 29 to July 1 in Kathmandu, adds the release. On negotiations related to rules of origin, the CoE meet expressed satisfaction on the progress made so far. The meeting has only prepared a draft procedure on rules of origin, but details will be worked out during the next meeting. Members, in general terms, also agreed to allow 40 per cent value addition to the developing countries with 10 per cent derogation for LDCs. The CoE, having finalised the list of areas in which TA would be extended to LDC member states, held detailed discussions on the operational modalities for providing the assistance. The developing member states, particularly India and Pakistan have agreed to provide TA on areas of training and consultancy

services to the LDC member states. However, the meeting couldn’t make any substantial progress on revenue loss compensation mechanism for LDCs due to lowering of customs tariffs.