Sri Lanka at helm of South Asia free trade effort

Aug 26, 2013 (LBO) – South Asian nations have to cut negative lists to improve the people’s trade freedoms, a top regional official had said following a ministerial meet in the Island nation. Ahmed Salem, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation had said a goal was established at a 2011 regional summit meeting boosting trade by reducing non-tariff barriers, harmonising standards and reducing negative lists by 20 percent.

A good on a negative list is kept out of a free trade agreement and attracts a higher duty.

Though 2.4 billion US dollars in trade was taking place under SAFTA much more is taking place outside it, Salem had said.

“One of the reasons for slow phase of SAFTA is the sensitive lists,” he was quoted as saying in a commerce ministry statement.

“A number of suggestions have now been put forward to the Council to reduce hindrance to regional trade.

“To involve the private sector in the SAFTA process, representatives of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry are invited to the special meeting of Committee of Experts on non-tariff and para-tariff measures to present their views and concerns.”

Sri Lanka’s commerce minist