Heads of State and Heads of Government of the SAARC region; Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentleman,
As we all know we have had two days of very hard work. And I’m very pleased to announce that during the course of these two days we have in fact been able to decide and agree upon a number of issues. We set out to do, I kept on pointing out three things, but as it happens these three things had so many different sub activities. The three in fact are quite substantial.
We have agreed to direct the SAFTA Ministerial Council to intensify efforts to reduce the sensitive list as well as reduce non-tariff barriers to trade. I would like to point out I am particularly delighted that India has decided to reduce the sensitive list from 480 tariff lines to 25 tariff lines. India has also decided that with immediate effect from yesterday, to give zero basic customs duties for all items removed from the sensitive list.
At this summit, SAARC nations have also agreed to direct our finance ministers to chart a proposal to allow more financial flows and investments. We have also instructed the Secretary General to ensure the final preparations for the Indian Ocean Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service are completed this year, which would be in December, so we can speedily launch the service.
We have agreed to conclude the Regional Railways Agreement and to convene the Expert Group Meeting on Motor Vehicles Agreement before the next Council of Ministers. And we have agreed to establish a South Asian Postal Union.
On security issues, we have reached an agreement on the Rapid Response to Natural Disasters. We have also agreed to initiate work on combating maritime piracy in the region. We have also agreed to work more on renewable energy to be part of our energy security and in this regard we have agreed to have a set appropriate proportion of our national income to be invested on renewable energy, and that to be done according to, after deliberations with national arrangements and national bodies.
We have agreed to convene an expert group meeting to discuss a regional mechanism to empowerment of women and promote gender equality in the region. And we have agreed to strengthen the mechanism of SAARC itself, including the Secretariat and the Regional Centres.
Before I finish I would like to thank everyone, the heads of delegates, Heads of State, distinguished delegates and everyone who has been with us during the course of the last week, in fact for bearing with us. We have attempted to have a summit where there was a marsh, where there was a bog. And we hope that we have been able to have a fruitful and an appropriate summit. We also hope that with our modest means, we have been able to provide all the delegates with appropriate facilities and other services.
We would always want people to have a very good time in the Maldives. It is completely unthinkable that someone actually leaves the Maldives without enjoying it and having a good time. And therefore I hope that all of you have had a wonderful time here in the Maldives.
Before I end, I would like to congratulate the people of Nepal, its government and its leaders, for agreeing to host the 18th SAARC Summit.
Thank you very much.