Honorable Ministers,
Secretary General SAARC
Distinguished delegates, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to welcome the honorable Ministers, Secretaries and other delegates from SAARC Member States and SAARC Secretary General and his staff in Islamabad and wish you a very pleasant and comfortable stay. Let me also express my gratitude for electing me as the Chairman of the Eighth Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers. I would try my utmost, with kind cooperation of Your Excellencies, in taking this meeting to a successful conclusion.

Distinguished delegates,        

Since its inception, SAARC has made considerable progress in the areas related to economic and social areas for the uplift of the peoples of the South Asian region. A range of mechanisms have supplemented the overall cooperation in economic and financial sectors among the Member States to achieve South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) in a phased and planned manner through a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market, and a Common Economic and Monetary Union. The concerted and time-bound efforts at SAARC platform are the only way to get the masses of the South Asian region out of the clutches of poverty and hunger. In all such efforts, the role of Finance Ministers of SAARC Member States is central. Seven rounds of the SAARC Finance Ministers Meeting have successfully been held, so far.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our unfinished agenda that includes, the SAARC Limited Multilateral Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment, Harmonization of Customs Procedures and Documentation, establishment of SAARC Development Bank, proposal to allow for greater flow of financial capital and intra-regional long-term investment and recommendations of SAARC-ADB Study on Regional Economic Integration(Phase-II), is delaying the process of intra-regional and inter-regional integration of the South Asian region. All the aforementioned subjects need special attention of this forum to move ahead in consonance with the global economic and financial architecture. Keeping in view the interests of the Least Developed, Land-locked, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in SAARC, the progress on all the pending areas is imperative.

Excellencies,

I am sure that today we will come up with concrete recommendations on steps to ultimate goal of the South Asian Economic Union that would provide a viable way of getting the peoples of our region out of poverty and would give a new push to the multifaceted regional cooperation. The recommendations would be submitted to our leaders for their consideration, who are scheduled to meet at the 19th SAARC Summit to be held on 9-10 November this year, in Islamabad. The valuable cooperation of Excellency Ministers and Secretary General will be key to successful conclusion of this meeting.

Thank You

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