Four pacts to be signed at SAARC Summit

Apart from holding a series of bilateral meets with leaders of SAARC including Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Singh will also address Peoples' Majlis on the margins of the Summit, making him the first foreign head of government to address the Maldivian Parliament in its 78-year-old history.

The four agreements to be inked will cover establishment of a SAARC seed Bank, Multilateral Arrangement on Recognition of Conformity Assessment, Rapid Response to Natural Disaster and Implementation of Regional Standards, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters.

He said the official engagement of the summit will begin on November 6 with Standing Committee meeting of SAARC followed by joint secretary-level meetings of the eight member states.

Foreign Secretaries of SAARC will meet on November 7-8 to finalise the agenda of the Summit and the Summit Declaration.

A meeting of the Foreign Ministers will be held on November 9, prior to the Summit on November 10-11, he said.

Talking about the Summit's theme 'Building Bridges', Mathai said "literally and metaphorically, our region needs to build infrastructure, connectivity and trade. It also needs people-to-people contact."

The summit, to be hosted for the first time in south of equator, will also focus on the trade aspects. Intra-regional trade currently stands at USD 1.3 billion.

Asked if there was any concrete proposal to increase the regional trade, Mathai said "I don't think the summit plans to reach at any numericals...but efforts would be to reduce the sensitive lists (of goods)".

This will specially benefit the LDC members of SAARC and also for reducing the peak tariff rates on products that remain covered by the sensitive list.

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