ISLAMABAD – Non tariff barriers (NTBs) deter intra-SAARC trade and need to be addressed through modern technology, positive approach and shared vision.

This was stated by Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister for External Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka, in his inaugural address at the seminar “Trade Facilitation in South Asia: Addressing barriers to foster Trade Chain”, which recently concluded in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The seminar was organized by SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Sri Lanka in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF): Fur Die Freiheit, Regional Directorate, New Delhi. Sri Lankan Minister termed NTBs as root-cause of insignificant intra-regional trade.

, which was poorly 5 percent as compared with 58 percent in EU, 52 percent in NAFTA and 26 percent in ASEAN.

He urged for strengthening bilateral and sub-regional initiatives within the regional trade framework to foster regional cooperation.

Vikramjit Singh Sahney in his keynote address urged for reduction of sensitive list, minimizing procedural barriers to ensure the free flow of goods and services and promote trade, investment and tourism to further deepen regional economic cooperation.

Annisul Huq reiterated the demand of flexible visa policy, implementation of motor vehicle agreement, shipping protocol, and EDI facilities at border customs.