India expects trade liberalisation during SAARC Summit

New Delhi:  India expects to move forward on the process of liberalisation of trade under the SAFTA and will work to promote greater integration and development of a South Asian identity at the forthcoming SAARC summit beginning in the Maldives on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday.

In his departure statement, he also said that the SAARC countries expect to sign agreements on implementation of regional standards (IRS), multilateral arrangement on recognition of conformity assessment, rapid response to natural disasters and establishment of SAARC Seed Bank.

While the two-day Summit starts on Thursday in Addu Atoll islands, the Prime Minister is expected to meet his Pakistani counter Yousuf Raza Gilani on the margins of the summit on Thursday. Later, he will fly to Male, capital of the Maldives, on November 12 for bilateral meeting with President Nasheed.

Singh said SAARC has established itself as the leading mechanism for regional cooperation in South Asia.

It has enabled enhanced cooperation within the region in a wide range of areas such as trade, connectivity, poverty alleviation, food security, women and child development, combating organised crime and terrorism, among others.

It has also created new institutions to promote regional integration such as the South Asian Regional Standards Organisation, South Asian Development Fund and South Asian University which is based in New Delhi.

Noting that the theme of the summit is `Building Bridges`, he said India welcomes this focus, it has always emphasised the importance of enhance connectivity for the socio-economic development of the South Asian region.