Pakistan News

Better banking ties key to boost Saarc trade

Better banking ties key to boost Saarc trade

ISLAMABAD: Regional cooperation in banking and finance is the key to facilitate trade among Saarc member states, State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra said on Monday.

Addressing the 22nd Saarc Finance Coordinators meeting, Mr Wathra — who is also the chairman of Saarc Finance — shared the decision of the 30th group meeting and said the last meeting identified five areas for cooperation, which will ultimately work as a roadmap for the network.

These five areas include reducing the transaction costs of cross-border remittances in the Saarc region; cross-border trade in the region; capacity building of our staff; the creation of Saarc Finance statistical database; and undertaking of collaborative research studies to assess issues of common interest.

He hoped that these areas for mutual cooperation would help build a clear mandate for future cooperation among the members.

The meeting was attended by Saarc Finance Coordinators and Alternate Saarc Finance Coordinators from Saarc central banks and focal points from ministries of finance of the region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan, and the SBP.

The governor highlighted some recent initiatives undertaken by the Saarc finance network, such as the availability of short-term liquidity for members under the Saarc Swap Arrangement, capacity building programmes for officials of members under the Saarc Finance Scholarship Scheme, the dialogue and exchange of knowledge on issues of mutual interest through Saarc Finance Portal, the creation of regional statistical database, and the recent initiative on collaborative research studies.

The meeting was primarily aimed at reviewing the progress of SAARC FINANCE activities and to prepare the draft agenda for the forthcoming 31st Saarc Finance group meeting, which will be held alongside the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Lima, Peru, during Oct 9 to 11, 2015.

SBP’s Deputy Governor Riaz Riazuddin chaired the opening session followed by the business session. Major issues deliberated upon during the meeting included the review of implementation of the decisions of the 30th Saarc Finance group meeting held in Dhaka on June 12 this year; progress and update regarding the collaborative research studies by member central banks; a review of the developments regarding the Saarc Finance Statistical Database; deliberation on the five areas for regional cooperation, especially banking and finance; and transfer of the Saarc Finance chair to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka during the next group meeting.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2015

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