SAARC to set up Point

Kathmandu, May 18 :

The meeting of SAARC nations organised by the SAARC Secretariat Kathmandu from May 16 and 17, has decided to set up a Point of National Inquiry (PNI) to document information related to non-tariff barriers facing the export sector in their respective countries.

Regarding non-tariff issues, SAARC countries’ representatives at the sub-group meeting have finalised ‘terms of reference’ to work on the same, said a source at the ministry of industry, commerce and supplies while talking to The Himalayan Times. In Nepal, the ministry of industry, commerce and supplies has identified Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology (NBSM) as the PNI to collect information on non-tariff barriers and act accordingly.

The meeting in the capital was held as per the decision of a meeting of committee of experts (CoE) and ministerial level meet held in Dhaka from April 18 to 19. The meeting had given a mandate to hold sub-committee meeting on non-tariff barriers as SAARC nations had already faced difficulties in the export sector. The same meeting had also decided to identify non-tariff barriers by finalising a term of reference between member countries.

The decision on terms of reference to keep an eye on non-tariff barriers in all SAARC nations was taken as per the provision enshrined in the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) framework.

All member countries of SAARC will, as per the terms of reference, work on administrative pricing, voluntary export price restraints, anti-dumping measures, countervailing measures, finance measures, advance payment requirements, multiple exchange rules and quality control measures on exportable products.

However, political decision matters a lot for deciding matters on non-tariff barriers related to the export sector, opined senior officials at the ministry of industry, commerce and supplies. The discussion among SAARC nations on non-tariff measures and para-tariff measures emerged following a drop in export products in the intra-regional trade.

This was done as per the article of 7(4) of SAFTA Framework. PNIs will collect information as to how SAARC products have faced difficulties through non-tariff barriers in the context of SAFTA implementation.

Issues such as quarantine check, situation of laboratory in all respective countries, barriers to export, policies and issues affecting export sector from one country to another will be observed through a ‘common perspective’.