A South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Transport Ministerial Meeting scheduled to be held in Kathmandu in June is set to finalize the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement.
Nepal has proposed hosting the SAARC Transport Ministerial Meeting in Kathmandu from June 22-24 as per the agreement reached during the 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu to hold a Meeting of the Transport Minister to finalize the Agreements for approval. “Nepal as the current chair of SAARC has decided to host the meeting in Kathmandu. We expect to finalize the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement for approval so that connectivity in the SAARC region can be enhanced further,” said Spokesperson at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tara Prasad Pokharel.
The 18th SAARC Summit held in November 26-28 with the theme — Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity –had expected to approve three different SAARC framework agreements on motor vehicles, railways and energy cooperation to enhance integration and connectivity in the region. But there was agreement only on SAARC Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation (electricity) as Pakistani delegation said that they were yet to complete bureaucratic process for approval at home.
The Kathmandu Declaration of the 18th SAARC Summit while welcoming significant progress made toward finalizing these two agreements had decided to hold SAARC Transport Ministers meeting within three months to finalize the agreements for approval. The Declaration, however, did not mention which member state will be holding the meeting.
Joint Secretary Ramesh Prasad Khanal, who heads Regional Organizations Division at the MoFA, said Nepal had decided to hold the Transport Ministerial Meeting in Kathmandu to expedite the implementation of the agreements reached during the Summit. “We have proposed to host the meeting on June 22-24. This is subject to approval by all member states,” he said.
The two SAARC Framework Agreements once finalized and approved by respective member states are expected to enhance regional connectivity in seamless manner. During the Kathmandu Summit, SAARC member states had renewed their commitment to substantially enhance regional connectivity through building and upgrading roads, railways, waterways, infrastructure, energy grids and communications and air links to ensure smooth cross border flow of goods and services and people.
Experts said Agreements on SAARC Motor Vehicles and SAARC Regional Railways Agreements could prove instrumental in enhancing connectivity in the SAARC region. Landlocked countries like Nepal can additionally benefitted as this also pave way for reaching sub-regional level motor-vehicle and railways agreement under the SAARC Framework Agreement.