“Accurate, reliable and timely information plays an important role for effective decision making in almost every aspect of human endeavor. It is an essential ingredient for decisions makers and Policy planners. The Statistics Ministry in India attaches considerable importance to coverage and quality aspects of statistics released in the country and is constantly working to achieve international standards.” This was stated by the Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation, Shri. D.V. Sadananda Gowda, while inaugurating the 8th Meeting of Heads of SAARC Statistical Organizations (SAARCSTAT) in New Delhi today.India is hosting the three-day meeting and delegates from SAARC Member States and other international organizations viz., FAO, PARIS 21, and ADB attended the Meet. The theme of this Meeting is “Trade Statistics – Merchandise & Services”.
While delivering the key note address, the Minister emphasized on greater regional cooperation for mutual development, to accelerate free trade in goods and services in the Region. It is essential to put 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 Custom procedures; elimination of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers; policy initiatives for comparable statistics and smooth & efficient transit and transport facilities, which will provide an opportunity to the SAARC Members countries to review the implementation of the recommendations made in International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) 2010 and Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services (MSITS) 2010 and help in better understanding of the existing economic statistics frameworks and guidelines such as the System of National Accounts (2008 SNA), Balance of Payments (BPM6) and the Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics.
Reducing Asymmetry in Trade data amongst SAARC countries is one of the topics for discussion in this Meeting. Reducing asymmetry in bilateral trade data is an issue which requires serious attention from the data compilers. Although India has taken up the issues of data reconciliation with a few countries like China, Brazil, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka but much more needs to be done to bring down the asymmetry to an acceptable level especially in the SAARC Region. The Minister was hopeful that deliberations in the meeting will help to transfer knowledge and good practices amongst the participating countries that will help to improve the quality of official statistics on international trade in goods and services. Shri Gowda, assured all the Member countries that India, on its part, would be glad to share its experiences and studies, if any, on the issue with other countries of the Region.It was also announced that India has decided to offer two slots to SAARC Member countries in Training Programmes conducted by the National Statistical Systems Training Academy. The Minister informed the Meeting about the ambitious Digital India programme towards evidence based and transparent decision making process of the Government.