KATHMANDU DEC­LA­RA­TION

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The Heads of State or Gov­ern­ment ex­pressed their strong de­ter­mi­na­tion to deepen re­gional in­te­gra­tion for peace, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity in South Asia by in­ten­si­fy­ing co­op­er­a­tion, in­ter alia, in trade, in­vest­ment, fi­nance, en­ergy, se­cu­rity, in­fra­struc­ture, con­nec­tiv­ity and cul­ture; and im­ple­ment­ing projects, pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties in a pri­or­i­tized, re­sult-ori­ented and time-bound man­ner.

The Lead­ers re­newed their com­mit­ment 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 Lead­ers ac­knowl­edged that SAARC Mem­ber States, par­tic­u­larly the Least De­vel­oped and Land­locked Mem­ber States, face struc­tural con­straints and chal­lenges that re­sult in their weak pro­duc­tive ca­pac­ity af­fect­ing their com­pet­i­tive­ness in ex­ter­nal trade due to, among oth­ers, high trade and tran­sit cost. They com­mit­ted to en­hance support to the Least De­vel­oped and Land­locked Mem­ber States in their de­vel­op­ment ef­forts, with a view to en­sur­ing eq­ui­table ben­e­fits of free trade

“Deeper In­te­gra­tion for Peace and Pros­per­ity ar­range­ments. In this con­text, they agreed to ef­fec­tively im­ple­ment the ex­ist­ing pref­er­en­tial fa­cil­i­ties un­der SAFTA and SATIS.

Di­rected SAFTA Min­is­te­rial Coun­cil and SAFTA Com­mit­tee of Ex­perts to ac­cel­er­ate free trade in goods and ser­vices in the re­gion putting into op­er­a­tion sim­pli­fied and trans­par­ent rules of ori­gin; im­ple­men­ta­tion of trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion mea­sures; har­mo­niza­tion of stan­dards re­lat­ing to Tech­ni­cal Bar­ri­ers to Trade (TBT) and san­i­tary and phyto-san­i­tary mea­sures; har­mo­nized, stream­lined and sim­pli­fied cus­toms pro­ce­dures; elim­i­na­tion of non-tar­iff and para-tar­iff bar­ri­ers; and smooth and ef­fi­cient tran­sit and trans­port fa­cil­i­ties. They also called for early op­er­a­tional­iza­tion of SATIS by fi­nal­iz­ing the sched­ule of com­mit­ments.

They called for timely and com­pre­hen­sive re­forms of the global eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial ar­chi­tec­ture to make it in­clu­sive and re­spon­sive to the needs of Least De­vel­oped, Land-locked, and Small Is­land De­vel­op­ing States (SIDS).

They reaf­firmed that SIDS would re­quire spe­cial at­ten­tion in view of their unique cir­cum­stances and par­tic­u­lar vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in re­al­iza­tion of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

They agreed to strengthen the So­cial Win­dow of the SAARC De­vel­op­ment Fund (SDF) and op­er­a­tional­ize its Eco­nomic Win­dow and In­fra­struc­ture Win­dow at the ear­li­est for ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­gional and subre­gional projects. In that con­text, they stressed on ex­pe­di­tious de­vel­op­ment of projects un­der SDF ad­dress­ing the liveli­hood is­sues of the peo­ples of the re­gion. They agreed to ex­pand the Gov­ern­ing Board of SDF by in­clud­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Na­tional Fo­cal Point of the Mem­ber States.

The Heads of State or Gov­ern­ment wel­comed the sig­nif­i­cant progress to­wards fi­nal­iza­tion of the SAARC Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles Agree­ment and SAARC Re­gional Rail­ways Agree­ment and agreed to hold a Meet­ing of the Trans­port Min­is­ters within three months in or­der to fi­nal­ize the Agree­ments for ap­proval. They re­newed their com­mit­ment to sub­stan­tially en­hance re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity in a seam­less man­ner through build­ing and up­grad­ing roads, rail­ways, wa­ter­ways in­fra­struc­ture, en­ergy grids, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and air links to en­sure smooth cross-bor­der flow of goods, ser­vices, cap­i­tal, tech­nol­ogy and peo­ple. The lead­ers em­pha­sized the need for link­ing South Asia with con­tigu­ous re­gions, in­clud­ing Cen­tral Asia, and beyond by all modes of con­nec­tiv­ity and di­rected rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to ini­ti­ate na­tional, re­gional and sub re­gional mea­sures and nec­es­sary ar­range­ments.

The Lead­ers di­rected the rel­e­vant SAARC bod­ies and mech­a­nisms to iden­tify re­gional and sub-re­gional projects in the area of power gen­er­a­tion, trans­mis­sion and power trade, in­clud­ing hy­dropower, nat­u­ral gas, so­lar, wind and bio-fuel, and im­ple­ment them with high pri­or­ity with a view to meet­ing the in­creas­ing de­mand for power in the re­gion. The Lead­ers wel­comed the sign­ing of the SAARC Frame­work Agree­ment for En­ergy Co­op­er­a­tion (Elec­tric­ity).

The Lead­ers re­it­er­ated their strong com­mit­ment to free South Asia from poverty and di­rected the Min­is­te­rial and Sec­re­tarylevel mech­a­nisms on poverty alle­vi­a­tion to re­view the progress and re­visit the SAARC Plan of Ac­tion and its ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion, also tak­ing into ac­count the Post-2015 De­vel­op­ment Agenda.

They rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial of co­op­er­a­tives in achiev­ing in­clu­sive, broad-based and sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment, and called for shar­ing of ex­pe­ri­ences, ex­per­tise and best prac­tices in this sec­tor.

The Lead­ers rec­og­nized that the Post-2015 De­vel­op­ment Agenda, fol­low­ing its adop­tion at the UN, would present op­por­tu­ni­ties to com­pli­ment na­tional and re­gional ef­forts on sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. They di­rected to ini­ti­ate an In­ter-Gov­ern­men­tal process to ap­pro­pri­ately con­tex­tu­al­ize the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) at the re­gional level.

The Heads of State or Gov­ern­ment agreed to in­crease in­vest­ment, pro­mote re­search and de­vel­op­ment, fa­cil­i­tate tech­ni­cal co­op­er­a­tion and ap­ply in­no­va­tive, ap­pro­pri­ate and re­li­able tech­nolo­gies in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor for en­hanc­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity to en­sure food and nu­tri­tional se­cu­rity in the re­gion. They also un­der­scored the im­por­tance of pro­mot­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture. The Lead­ers di­rected to elim­i­nate the thresh­old cri­te­ria from the SAARC Food Bank Agree­ment so as to en­able the Mem­ber States to avail food grains, dur­ing both emer­gency and nor­mal time food dif­fi­culty. The Lead­ers urged for early rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the SAARC Seed Bank Agree­ment and di­rected to con­sti­tute the Seed Bank Board, pend­ing com­ple­tion of rat­i­fi­ca­tion by all Mem­ber States. The Lead­ers also di­rected the rel­e­vant SAARC bod­ies to fi­nal­ize the es­tab­lish­ment of Re­gional Vac­cine Bank and Re­gional Live­stock Gene Bank.

They di­rected the rel­e­vant bod­ies/mech­a­nisms for ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of SAARC Agree­ment on Rapid Re­sponse to Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ters, SAARC Con­ven­tion on Co­op­er­a­tion on En­vi­ron­ment and Thimphu State­ment on Cli­mate Change, in­clud­ing tak­ing into ac­count the ex­is­ten­tial threats posed by cli­mate change to some SAARC Mem­ber States. They wel­comed the decision to es­tab­lish the SAARC En­vi­ron­ment and Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Cen­tre. The Lead­ers un­der­lined the ur­gency for the global com­mu­nity to ar­rive at a Pro­to­col,

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