Kher said the architecture for global trade has been changing over the last few years and the focus is now moved to regional trade integration.

He observed that SAARC members have been discussing the need for improving connectivity since a long time but "now there is need for action".

"There is a strong need to build a strong infrastructure which will promote integration in South Asia and some parts of ASEAN region," he said adding smooth movement of goods from India to Asean or to south Asian nations should now become a "serious activity" for New Delhi.

"....and this requires a completely new treatment to the manner in which the members of SAARC and ASEAN talk to each other," he added.

Kher said in the new global trade architecture, there is a need to think beyond issues like tariffs and focus more on trade facilitation, easy procedures and physical connectivity.

"Now the ultimate purpose is to see how in shortest possible time and in a least cost, we can reach our destination," the Secretary said.

India must play a very significant role in this new architecture and "therefore it's focus on connectivity has to be beyond the typical, if I could use a crude jargon, the 'PWD' construction based activity. It has to be a project which is a new with a certain amount of urgency," he said.

There is a need to build a strong infrastructure which will promote integration in South Asia and parts of ASEAN region, he added.

Kher also emphasised on increasing connectivity through easy visa processes and people to people contact in terms of tourism and culture.

On the visa issue, he said that SAARC members should think about "health care visas" under which a patient in an emergency condition from 'X' country can get visa in 24 hours if he/she wants to get treatment in other South Asian nation.

Speaking on the occasion, Additional Secretary in the Pakistan's Commerce Ministry, Azher Ali Choudhry, said that condition of physical connectivity is not adequate in the region and there is a need to improve this to boost trade.

There is a need to take several steps including simplification of customs procedures and freer movement of people to improve connectivity and enhance trade.

Both the officials were speaking at the UN ESCAP's function on strengthening transport connectivity in South Asia.

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