Pillai calls for safeguard in Safta

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi , Mar 28 | Updated: Mar 30 2008, 04:10am hrs
The Centre on Friday asked the countrys business houses to shift their focus to the Saarc region and benifit from the opportunities there, especially when the US and the European economies are slowing down.

Safta provides a good opportunity for increasing the regional trade in South Asia, and South Asian business should diversify and look at the opportunities within the region, particularly in view of the current slowdown in the US and global economy, the commerce secretary G K Pillai said while addressing the FICCI-ADB-UNCTAD Seminar .

Citing the example of imports of cements from Pakistan into India, Pillai said that there were inherent complementarities within the region that needs to be effectively tapped to integrate further. He said that the high economic growth in the Saarc countries, especially India, has resulted in greater confidence and a positive perception about the region. Given its economic size and large population base, South Asia offers a huge opportunity for business. However, there is a need for building appropriate safeguard mechanism in Safta treaty so that it becomes acceptable for the smaller countries in the region and gives them a sense of confidence, he said.

He further added, This is necessary in order to alleviate the perceptions of the smaller countries about the possible influx of goods and services from India into their territories. He also stressed on the need for improving facilities within the region to create more trade opportunities by sea and road, and pointed out that despite the security concerns prevailing in the region, trade has been taking place smoothly between the member-countries.

Pillai said that about 2.38 lakh tonne cement was imported from Pakistan to meet the needs of the construction industry in the country. He hoped that trade liberalization in the region would enable to keep the rising prices under check This Seminar was second in the series to obtain stakeholders feedback on the Draft Study prepared by the ADB and UNCTAD on benefits from Saftaand the way ahead. Safta will contribute to stronger economic growth and gains would be much higher if measures to establish more efficient regional transportation and infrastructure networks are simultaneously undertaken.