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SAARC committee of experts to meet on FTA issue 2005-09-07

SAARC committee of experts to meet on FTA issue

KATHMANDU, Sept. 7 (Xinhuanet) — Committee of Experts (CoE) of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have decided to meet for yet another round and forward the outstanding issues of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) to political level for final decision, a Nepali government official said here Wednesday.

"After they failed to resolve differences during the 10th meeting of CoE last week in Kathmandu, the CoE will meet for the last time in Islamabad from Oct. 18 for two days for final understanding, so that it can be enforced from Jan. 1, 2006," Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya, joint secretary of Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, told reporters.

The CoE will forward the draft outcome to commerce secretary-level meeting first, and then to the SAARC ministerial-level standing committee for further treatment, Upadhyaya noted.

The SAARC Secretariat had fixed the dates for secretary-level body’s meet for Oct. 20 and Standing Committee’s meet for two days from Oct. 21.

Although the officials have been expressing optimism for finalizing Rules of Origin, sensitive list, technical assistance (TA) and revenue compensation mechanism for Least Developing Country (LDC) members during the 10th CoE, they managed to finalize provisions on the TA only, Upadhyaya revealed.

The developing members agreed on the areas wherein they will pledge technical assistance to the LDC partners for their capacity building, he noted, adding, "They, however, did not fully endorse the LDCs-submitted lists of products on which they sought special derogation, maintaining the value addition criteria for them at 20 percent."

 source: Xinhua