THT 10 YEARS AGO: SAFTA panel paves way for trade pact
Kathmandu, December 1, 2005
Twelve rounds of brainstorming and the Committee of Experts (CoE) on the South Asian Free Trade Agreement has resolved all outstanding issues and paved the way for implementation of the regional free trade area pact from January 1. Following three days of meetings in Kathmandu, CoE — a technical committee of commerce joint secretaries of the sevenmember bloc South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) — has resolved the three issues of sensitive list, rules of origin and revenue compensation mechanism. “The meeting was successful in resolving all issues by creating a win-win situation for developing and under-developed countries,” said Naindra Prasad Upadhaya, leader of the Nepali delegation. Upadhaya opined SAFTA would be crucial in regional economic integration by liberalising trade. “It will help boost intra-regional trade and eventually translate the vision of the SAARC Economic Union into reality,” Upadhaya said. One contentious issue that CoE resolved today was the setting up of products’ sensitive list for SAFTA. SAARC members have agreed to an average 13 to 20 per cent of total trading products for developing countries under the SAFTA sensitive list. Two members Nepal and Bangladesh have agreed to 23 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. Bhutan and Maldives, however, have listed it below 10 per cent. On the rules of origin, member-countries have agreed for “regional cumulation” provisions under general rules of origin, while developing countries will provide derogation of 10 per cent to LDC members for products identified under the product specific rule.
UN body wants govt response to truce
Kathmandu, December 1, 2005
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged the government to reach a truce with the Maoists. “A mutual ceasefire between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the government of King Gyanendra and steps towards lasting peace are crucial to bring to an end a period of grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by both the Maoists and the state,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said in a press release issued by her Office today in Geneva. She added, “Secretary General Kofi Annan has encouraged the CPN-M to extend its unilateral ceasefire which ends this week and urged the declaration of a reciprocal ceasefire by the government. I add my voice to his call, as I am seriously concerned about the very real possibility that a full-scale armed conflict could resume.” Arbour also urged the CPN-M to work with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal to ensure that its cadres respect the welcome commitments to respect human rights and the rule of law made in the letter of understanding they have signed with the political parties.”