SAARC Finance Ministers say close economic cooperation essential for lasting peace and prosperity

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala (eighth from left) and Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat (to his right) posing for a group photo after the inaugural ceremony of seventh SAARC Finance Ministers’ meeting, in Kathmandu, on Thursday. Photo: Bal Krishna Thapa/THT

The seventh meeting of the Finance Ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held in Nepal to discuss closer economic cooperation in the region including connectivity through economic union. In his address Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said, “We believe that the vision of South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) is relevant and can be achieved in a phased manner within a reasonable period of time with an inbuilt provision for sharing benefits equitably among its member countries.”

“Close economic cooperation is essential for lasting peace and prosperity,” he added.

The meeting was attended by ministerial representatives from all the seven countries including India with the Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha attending the meet. As the chair, Nepal has been working closely with all the SAARC member countries for the implementation of the decisions contained in the Kathmandu Declaration 2014, said Mr Koirala.

As a region of vast opportunities, South Asia is endowed with both human and natural resources. Collective political will and joint efforts could make a difference in changing the development landscape of this region, noted PM Koirala. He spoke about Nepal’s progress after the devastating quake in April that killed more than 9,000 people. He also spoke about how the economy is moving towards rapid growth with power trade deals struck with India and other multinational companies.

Nepal’s Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said strengthening of economic and financial cooperation would help reinforce the unity of the region. He stressed on the need to establish relations with each country, promote inter country investment and remove non-tariff barriers with goodwill among the member countries.

SAARC General Secretary Arjun Bahadur Thapa spoke about the need to create conducive environment for smooth flow of goods and products within the region through road or rail networks and move towards a strong socio-economic development through the SAEU.

Being the largest and most prosperous country in the region among the member states, an economic union could boost India’s growth and stature in the region.

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