Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Shahid participated at the Horasis Extraordinary Meeting, held virtually on the side -lines of the UN General Assembly, today.

Speaking at a panel entitled “The Potential for South Asia”, Minister Shahid noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the inequalities that exist within and between countries to a shocking level. Minister Shahid emphasized the need for strengthened regional cooperation to combat the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Asia. Minister Shahid acknowledged that, Maldives’ precarious dependency on a single industry- tourism, for national income has led to economic collapse, despite early intervention. Minister Shahid added that the Maldives has taken strict measures to cut down expenditure, and formulated long-term plans for recovery including diversifying the country’s economy.

Minister Shahid expressed his gratitude to the international community and the brotherly nations in the region including India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for their generous assistance in the form of aid, grants, credit lines and undisrupted supply of essential commodities during this critical time.

Acknowledging that SAARC needs do so much more, Minister Shahid called to strengthen intra-regional trade and connectivity, to benefit from the full potential that exist in SAARC. Minister Shahid also highlighted that more than ever, the crisis has revealed that universal access to internet and digital technology are critical to ensure development and progress for all.

In conclusion, Minister Shahid stated that we must take the lessons, and focus on how we rebuild after this pandemic, by incorporating preparedness, resilience, inclusivity, equity and sustainability.

The forum was held virtually this year due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Shahid, was joined by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, H.E. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, H.E. Shariar Alam, and H.E. V.K Singh, Minister of State for Road and Transport and Highways, India. The panel was moderated by Mr. Binodh Chaudhary, Chairman of Chaudhary Group Corp Global.