Pakistan offers to host next Saarc meeting to bolster regional trade ties

Source: Published in Business & Economy on Wednesday, May 4, 2016

FRANKFURT: Pakistan has offered to host the next meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) finance ministers in July to carry forward talks on closer commercial ties among member nations by investing in trade corridors to facilitate intra-regional movement of cargo.

Talking to Dawn after the closed-door meeting of finance ministers of Saarc countries on the sidelines of the 49th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar confirmed that the suggestion was well received by the panel.

“There is growing realisation that it would be unrealistic to expect a significant spike in trade in the region without improving conditions of logistics, including the physical infrastructure, necessary to realise the aspiration of deeper trade ties,” he said. “There is agreement in principle, but specific projects and their launch will require homework that will hopefully start soon,” he added.

Besides Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan were represented by their finance ministers at the event. Shaktikanta Das, secretary of the department of economic affairs, participated on behalf of India whose finance minister is expected to arrive for a day today (Wednesday). Sabyasachi Mitra, ADB’s deputy representative of the European representative office, made a detailed presentation on trade corridor projects in the region.

On Monday night, ADB and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development signed the ‘Frankfurt Declaration’ to pledge support for progress on climate action and technical and vocational education and training.

It spells out the intention of the bank and Germany to launch the Asia Climate Finance Facility next year (2017). The two sides will leverage public and private sector investment to mitigate the effects of climate change to back the COP 21 Paris Agreement.

The facility will assist recipient countries through innovative co-financing tools, including guarantees and climate risk insurance, which support nationally-developed commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as investment in improving resilience.

Dar speaks out

Speaking to journalists on his arrival at the venue on Monday, Mr Dar had said that the government will not allow anyone to derail the economic recovery process. “It took us three years and focused efforts to put the economy on track. It is now set to achieve over 5 per cent growth in FY16 after a lapse of several years and poised to hit 6pc next year and 7pc thereafter. We have zero tolerance for elements who threaten to stall the economic recovery,” he said.

Commenting on Pakistan’s participation in the ADB meeting, he said: “We are here to share with the world the distance we have travelled on the road to economic recovery and make a case for more support in terms of accessibility to expertise, technology, markets and investible funds to accelerate growth and improve its quality.”

On the new-found focus on coal-powered plants when the world is moving in the other direction, the minister said that, “We have argued that it is absolutely necessary to deal with the debilitating energy crisis in Pakistan and have asked development partners to grant us an exception to start the emission control plan after a few years,” he said.

People Mentioned
  • Muhammad Ishaq Dar Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Statistics