* Lanka's int'l trade body DoC singlehandedly wraps-up SAFTA '13, earns high-praise for role
During the 23 August session at Cinnamon Grand Colombo, visiting delegates of the SAFTA bloc elected Sri Lanka to Chair the SAFTA Ministerial Council till August 2014 after which Bhutan is scheduled to take over from Sri Lanka.
Joining Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen -who officially represented Sri Lanka at SAFTA on 23 August at Colombo's seventh Ministerial Council meeting-(with the exception of Afghanistan) were the visiting SAFTA representatives from Bhutan (Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk-Minister of Economic Affairs of Bhutan with his officials), Bangladesh (Ghulam Muhammed Quader-Minister of Commerce of Bangladesh with his officials), India (Arvind Mehta-Joint Secretary of Indian Department of Commerce with his officials), Maldives (HE Hussain Shihab - High Commissioner of Maldives to Sri Lanka with Maldivian officials), Nepal (Janardan Nepal - Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Supplies of Nepal with his officials), Pakistan (Qasim M.
The 23 August Ministerial session, was preceded by SAFTA Committee of Experts' in-depth, face to face discussions that began two days earlier on 21 August at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo.
Lavishing praise for the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka for its strenuous and singlehanded performance in successfully hosting and wrapping up the three day SAFTA sessions in Colombo, Secy.
General Salem said: "The 2011 SRC summit held in Maldives directed SAFTA Ministerial Council to reduce members' sensitive lists, resolution of non-tariff barriers, harmonising standards and modernise custom standards.
To involve the private sector in the SAFTA process, representatives of SRC 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.
Minister Bathiudeen, who chaired and moderated the three hour long closed door session of the Ministerial Council on 23 August, said: "Measures to dismantle all barriers to trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Agreement are already underway.
Sri Lanka remains fully committed, confidant and supportive of the objectives of SAFTA in further enhancing the programme of regional economic integration through promotion of preferential trade.
Minister Bathiudeen added: "SAFTA is not merely South Asia's response to the undeniable trend of regionalism.
We believe that together we can as a region address limiting factors that affect the SAFTA in a cooperative spirit of mutual gain.