The South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) was agreed to among the seven South Asia countries that form the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

SAFTA came into effect on 1 January 2006, with the aim of reducing tarrifs for intraregional trade among the seven SAARC members. Pakistan and India are to complete implementation by 2012, Sri Lanka by 2013 and Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal by 2015.

SAFTA replaces the earlier South Asia Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and may eventually lead to a full-fledged South Asia Economic Union.

The road to implementation, however, is plagued by the overarching conflict between India and Pakistan.

last update: May 2012


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  • 28-Sep-2015 India’s act ‘breaches’ int’l conventions, agreements
    Experts have termed India’s unofficial trade blockade on Nepal as a breach of international conventions and multilateral agreements that both Nepal and India have signed.
  • 20-Sep-2015 Regional integration, private sector to help South Asia boost growth: Report
    Increasing regional integration through enhanced role of private sector and cooperation in areas like trade, energy security and connectivity will help South Asian nations boost economic growth, says a report.
  • 25-Apr-2014 Afraid of free trade
    Diplomacy in South Asia is given over to give-no-quarter bureaucrats, who cleave to a nationalism that continues to trump economics.
  • 8-Jan-2014 Second largest SAARC partner hungry for Lankan exports, FTA trade
    Sri Lanka’s second largest trade partner in SAARC, Pakistan, is hungry for more Lankan exports in the coming year-while also closely looking at Sri Lanka’s sugar sector for entry.
  • 12-Nov-2013 No assurance on MFN from Pak
    No assurance was given by the Pakistan government on Tuesday for granting India the Most Favoured Nation trade status, almost a year after it missed the deadline to do so in order to normalise bilateral trading relations.
  • 15-Jul-2013 ‘Promotion of SAARC trade top priority’
    Promotion of trade among SAARC countries is one of the top priorities of the government, said Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar talking to Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody High Commissioner of Sri Lanka.
  • 10-May-2013 ’Pakistan needs to review Pak-India trade pact’
    Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Harvest Tradings Ahmed Jawad has said that to boost the trade with the neighbouring country the government needed to review the Pak-India trade agreement. Talking to INP here on Sunday, Ahmed Jawad said that there was no other option than enhancing trade to normalise the bilateral political and diplomatic relations with India.
  • 28-Jan-2013 Express Tribune Out of the frying pan...into trade liberalisation: SAFTA a disaster for Pakistan’s agriculture sector
    The South Asia Free Trade Agreement (Safta) appears to be a ‘disaster’ for Pakistan’s agricultural sector and is backed only by the industrial lobby.
  • 16-Jan-2013 MFN status to Pakistan remains fruitless for agri sector: USAID
    The Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan could not prove instrumental in increasing agriculture exports to India, observed a report sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • 13-Jan-2013 Pak-India ties to pave way for S Asia Free Trade Zone
    There are several safeguarding measures under WTO regime to save industry even after normalisation of trade with India, as delay in this regard will jeopardise the process of liberalisation of trade between the two neighbours.
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  • SAARC Secretariat
    The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises the seven South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka