Davos panel bats for South Asian bloc revival

DAVOS (AA): Nepal on Wednesday stressed that for regional development in South Asia neighboring countries should remove misunderstanding and hold a long overdue 6-nation summit.

Participating in a discussion at the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Nepal premier K P Sharma Oli said that his country wants to develop regional ties and understanding.

“As the chair country of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation [SAARC], we are trying our best to develop political understanding between the member countries,” Oli said.

Oli said that Nepal is making efforts to hold the SAARC summit in near future and “develop ties and relationship among the [member] countries in the region”.

The SAARC summit is overdue since 2016 when India backed-off, followed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan. New Delhi has repeatedly refused to attend the summit ever since. Maldives, Sri Lanka are other member states of SAARC which was formed in 1985.

“We are discussing about tariff and non-tariffs [regimes]… we have to develop understanding and remove misunderstanding. We need to develop trust and remove mistrust among the member states [of SAARC] and regional countries,” Oli said. The last summit of the regional bloc was held in Kathmandu in 2014.

South Asia accounts for 21 percent of the world’s population, yet intra-regional trade accounts for less than 5 percent of their overall trade, the forum said.