July 3, 2006, The Rising Nepal

Lalitpur, Nepal

A two-day regional level meeting on “South Asia and the World Trade Organisation Doha Round Negotiations” opened here Sunday.

The meeting organised by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) is being attended by more than 70 participants from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka & Pakistan.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Navin Dahal, executive director of SAWTEE, welcomed the participants and highlighted the objectives of the meeting. Dahal said that the meeting held greater importance in context of WTO members’ failure to agree on important issues of the Doha Round negotiations.

Dr. Shankar Sharma, former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission, said that the least developed countries like Nepal could create additional opportunities and advantages from the WTO if regional integration were duly managed and secured. He added that issues raised at the ministerial level meetings in Doha needed reassessment and a big push.

Amir Khosru Chaudhary, former commerce minister of Bangladesh, highlighted the importance of Aid for Trade for South Asian countries.

Pradeep Mehta, chairperson for the session and also chairperson of the SAWTEE Advisory Board, said that discussion of constraints at the regional level and the WTO forum would help resolve the major issues hindering South Asian common position in WTO negotiations.

The meeting will discuss common issues like agriculture, development dimension, services, non-agricultural market access and others affecting South Asia.

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