Saarc summit: Climate change, investment high on agenda: Dr Mahat

Kathmandu, July 30:

Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said today that the issue of climate change would be raised at the Colombo SAARC summit. Minister Mahat was talking to journalists before leaving for the summit.

Mahat said apart from economic issues, the summit would focus on climate change,

investment on infrastructure and social sector as well as energy.

He added, “Intra-regional capital, investment and trade flow are important to meet the SAARC’s objectives of economic cooperation and integration.” However, SAFTA — a major issue in the economic integration of South Asia that came into effect from January 1, 2006 -- is yet to make impact in real sense. A framework agreement on SAFTA obliges the SAARC countries to trade all products in the region with zero customs duty by the end of 2016.

At the summit, he would also ask Foreign Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee to waive duty on steel items.

He brushed off allegations that a jumbo team is heading to the Colombo Summit. “Our ministry would have reduced the team’s size, if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had consulted us.”

Mahat today headed to Sri Lanka, leading an eight-member delegation comprising joint secretary of the Ministry of Finance Krishna Gwayali and six journalists.