SAFTA must include services, investment: Pranab | india | Hindustan Times
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SAFTA must include services, investment: Pranab

india Updated: Feb 17, 2007 20:50 IST

India on Saturday said South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) should include services and investments in order to enlarge its scope.

"Full implementation of SAFTA will catalyze other areas of economic integration, including enlarging the scope of SAFTA to services and investments," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said after inaugurating the second SAARC Business Leaders conclave organised by FICCI in Mumbai.

"SAFTA can be an important instrument to deepen intra-regional trade if it is implemented in letter and spirit," he said.

Mukherjee observed that regional integration would provide opportunities of cooperation to address problems of energy shortage, constraints of transit for land-locked regions of the sub-continent and overcoming high transaction costs due to poor facilitation.

"Regional cooperation on transport and trade facilitation can transform these land locked regions into land-linked regions. The SAARC Multimodal Transport Study has given important suggestions which should be carried forward," he said.

He sought cooperation in tourism, education, health and professional services, which would yield dividends of peace.

He wanted the business community to ensure that their firms become globally competitive and the government can only create an environment conducive to improve economic performance.

Channels of communications and transport needed to be opened up, transit facilities provided, roads railways and waterways and rail links needed to be improved among SAARC, he said.