South Asian Economic Union: Will the dream ever come true?
He said since its inception, SAARC had made considerable progress in the areas related to economic and social sectors for the uplift of the South Asian region's nations.
He expressed the hope that the dream of establishing South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) would be materialized soon to ensure regional development and pull the people of the region out from poverty and hunger.
"I am sure that we will come up with concrete recommendations on steps to ultimate goal of the SAEU that would provide a viable way of getting the peoples of our region, out of poverty and would give a new push to the multifaceted regional cooperation," Dar said while addressing the inaugural session of the 8th Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers here.
A range of mechanisms have supplemented the overall cooperation in economic and financial sectors among the Member States to achieve SAEU in a phased and planned manner through a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market, and a Common Economic and Monetary Union.
"There is a need for a focused attention on shared goals by the national governments to realize the dream of the South Asian Economic Union," he added.
The minister said that the unfinished agenda that includes, the SAARC Limited Multilateral Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment, Harmonization of Customs Procedures and Documentation, establishment of SAARC Development Bank, proposal to allow for greater flow of financial capital and intra-regional long-term investment and recommendations of SAARC-ADB Study on Regional Economic Integration (Phase-II), has been delaying the process of intra-regional and inter-regional integration of the South Asian region.
All these subjects need special attention of this forum to move ahead in consonance with the global economic and financial architecture.
A special focus would be on moving from South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) to South Asian Economic Union (SAEU), he said.
He also stressed on customs-related trade facilitation measures, finalizing the draft on SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment, implementation of SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS),Avoidance of Double Taxation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and Transactions in Local Currencies.