FM lends support to steer ahead IOR-ARC objectives
Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad yesterday expressed the hope that the member countries of IOR-ARC could immensely exploit their untapped potential to promote their speedy economic growth, reports BSS from Muskat.
Delivering his speech at the Extraordinary Meeting of Council of Ministers of IOR-ARC (Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation) here, Azad lent Bangladesh's full support and cooperation in implementing aims and objectives of the regional body.
Bangladesh along with four other countries joined the new regional body, which was floated in 1997 in Mauritius. With the entry of Bangladesh, Iran, Seychelles, Thailand and Oman, the membership of the Association now rose to 19.
The Foreign Minister, who is leading a six member delegation, said Bangladesh attaches high priority on the trade and investment agenda of the IOR-ARC.
Bangladesh, he said, would be very keen to examine the individual country reports on coordination of Quarantine regulations by Australia, on Tariff database by India, on Custom regulations by Sri Lanka and on Compendium of trade rules and regulations by Mauritius.
"We are meeting at a time when there has been significantly greater understanding, appreciation and awareness of the importance of regional economic cooperation," Mr Azad said.
He went on saying the frontiers of our thinking on trade, commerce and development has substantially expanded in this decade.
The Foreign Minister said the government of Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes in the concept of regional economic cooperation.
Referring to the launching of SAARC in 1985, he said there is regional consensus among the SAARC countries to establish a free-trade area in South Asia following the coming into effect of South Asian Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA).
He said the member states have exchanged tariff concessions on more than 5400 items among themselves.
Bangladesh has received tariff concessions on 3016 items from other member states of SAARC and in return granted tariff concessions on 596 items to other members states, Mr Azad said.
Extending his thanks to all members states for admitting Bangladesh in the IOR-ARC, Mr Azad assured them of Bangladesh's full commitment to the principles, aims and objectives of the Charter and goals of the association.
He said it would be important to progress step by step to consolidate the gains already achieved before we move on to the next phase.
"We have many difficulties in our path but we will surely overcome those through our collaborative efforts", he added.