FRANKFURT/ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Tuesday said that the regional projects - CASA-1000 and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline - were immensely important for the regional countries and joint efforts should be made for their expeditious implementation.

He was talking to Finance Minister of Afghanistan Eklil Ahmad Hakimi on the sidelines of the ADB’s Annual Board of Governors meeting in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Afghan minister sought Pakistan’s support as a founding member of AIIB for Afghanistan’s membership of the bank. He also invited Dar to attend the opening ceremony of Torkham-Jalalabad Road.

The two finance ministers discussed matters related to economic cooperation, with regard to the mutual agreements reached during the last Joint Ministerial Commission meeting in Islamabad.

Dar assured his Afghan counterpart that progress was being made on the signed agreements, and the bilateral projects would be completed expeditiously.

He also reiterated Pakistan’s support for peace and prosperity of Afghanistan.

Hakimi invited Pakistan’s finance minister to Afghanistan for the next session of Joint Ministerial Commission meeting to be held in Kabul. Dar accepted the invitation and stated that mutually convenient date for the JMC meeting would be decided by the two sides for the purpose.

The minister also assured Hakimi Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s membership of AIIB. Dar was accompanied by Secretary, EAD Tariq Bajwa and other members of Pakistan’s delegation on the occasion.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar yesterday said that Europe and Asia must review their existing arrangements and open up markets by cutting down on tariff and non-tariff barriers.

He was speaking as a panelist in a seminar on ‘Asia-Europe Economic Cooperation: Fostering Greater Trade and Investment’ on the sidelines of ADB’s Annual Board of Governors Meeting here.

Other panelists were AIIB President Liqun Jin, Ulrich Schroder, CEO KFW, JICA Vice President Kae Yanagisawa, ADB Vice President Stephen P. Groff and Managing Editor of Emerging Markets Toby Fildes.

The minister spoke on the issues related to the slowdown in world trade growth, impacting Asia and Europe; economic cooperation; scaling up of economic cooperation with European countries and its diversification for mutual benefit.

“On infrastructure financing, the multilateral development banks must come up with new instruments e.g. bonds to bridge this gap,” he suggested The minister also dwelled on intellectual property rights and expanding e-commerce. The seminar concluded with a Question and Answer session with the audience.

Ishaq Dar also said that the development of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would play an important role in connecting SAARC with Central Asian Region.

He was addressing the 10th informal meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s annual board of governors meeting in Frankfurt, Germany.

He suggested that various new financial cooperation modes like economic and infrastructure projects through South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Development Fund needed to be initiated, in collaboration with other development partners to establish an economic corridor connecting the South Asian economies.

According to a message received here, the finance minister reiterated Pakistan’s support to the idea of promoting regional connectivity across the SAARC region by strengthening cooperation in the areas of transportation, investment and trade.

He stressed the need for greater and meaningful cooperation among member states and offered to host the next meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers between 15th of July and end August, 2016.

The minister appreciated the role of Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its commitment to homogeneous economic development across the sub regions of Asia. He emphasized the need of transformation of South Asia Transport Corridor by focusing on enhanced transport network, trade liberalization and building nodes and gate ways to link the SAARC region.