International Conference on Regional Trade Facilitation by FCCISL and SAARC Chamber

“Addressing Barriers to foster South Asian Free Trade Agreement”

A high level Conference and a  Seminar intend to address the issues pertaining to trade facilitation in the SAARC region under the SAFTA arrangement with the participation of prominent researchers, government policy makers in the SAARC members’ states with critical inputs and pragmatic suggestions from all stakeholders in the private sector and trade associations is scheduled to be held soon in Colombo.

Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL), in collaboration with the SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) with the partnership of Friedrich Naumann Stiftung is organizing a conference on Trade Facilitation, “Addressing Barriers to Foster South Asian Free Trade Agreement in South Asia” at the Taj Samudra Hotel on Friday, 13th July 2012.

Trade facilitation is largely used to improve the regulatory interface between government bodies and traders at national borders. It is also recognized that South Asian countries continue to adopt measures for advancement of trade facilitation measures. Development of infrastructure facilities required for trade facilitation efforts are also undertaken by some of the member countries.

Despite the enhancement of regional integration from Preferential Trading Arrangement to a fully fledged Free Trade Agreement, intra-trade among the SAFTA members remains at disappointed and dismal level while the other regional arrangements such as NAFTA, ASEAN, APEC maintain high level of intra trade among members. This gloomy outlook was attributed to many factors and among them insufficient attention paid on trade facilitation in the provisions of the SAARC Framework Agreement, lack of proper infrastructure relating to trade facilitation and cost and delay incurred in processing of documents at the boarder through manual operations are prominent.

In this context, the seminar intends to address the entire gamut of issues pertaining to trade facilitation in the SAARC region under the SAFTA arrangement by prominent researchers who have specialized on the subject, government policy makers who are involved in the field of trade facilitation in the SAARC members states with critical inputs and pragmatic suggestions from all stakeholders in the private sector and trade associations.

Participants from the SAARC region consisting of exporters, public sector policy makers, members from the academic community and journalists are expected at the seminar. The conference will be enriched with the addresses of Shri Vikramajit Singh Sahney, prominent Indian businessman and the president of SAARC CCI, Hon. Madhukar SJB Rana, Former Minister of Finance, Nepal, Mr. Subodh Kumar, Snr Executive Programs, Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Presidents of SAARC CCI Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Inaugural address will be delivered by Hon. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Among the topics to be delivered at the seminar are How to simplify Procedures to facilitate regional trade?, Trade Facilitation and sub-regional initiatives in SAARC, Improving Port Logistics and transport efficiency issues, Financing Custom Infrastructure.

Organizations and individuals who are interested in participating at the conference and the seminar may contact Ms.Niranjala Velathanthrige, Media Co-ordinator, FCCISL on 077 31 47 187, 011 230 42 53/4, niranjala@fccisl.lk or log in to www.fccisl.lk.