South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation
The government has finalised a draft of a preferential trade agreement (PTA) to be signed between Bangladesh and Bhutan within the next month.
SAPTA and SAFTA never took off is because all these countries were never able to focus on trade, keeping politics aside.
Leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation or BIMSTEC have promised to make a “peaceful and prosperous” Bay of Bengal region on the 22 years of inception of this grouping of seven countries.
Newly appointed external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday rued the fact that South Asia is among the least inter-connected regions in the world, but efforts are being made to make the region more integrated. Referring to BIMSTEC, which connects South Asia with Southeast Asia, Jaishankar said that India has strong synergy with other BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) states.
While India has tactfully used the platform to diplomatically isolate Pakistan, it must also tap into BIMSTEC’s immense potential for development, connectivity and trade in the region.
Even as India and others boycott SAARC, they must accelerate economic integration. India should address the concerns of countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal while investing in regional connectivity.
Eight finance ministers from South Asia pushed for the fast-track formation of the South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) to ensure larger investment inflows, higher trade volumes and energy generation.
The commerce ministers will discuss on enhancing intra-SAARC trade flows under SAFTA and vision for further trade liberalisation by reducing non-tariff and para-tariff barriers.
Trade dialogue between India and Pakistan — officially in the cold storage for almost three years — is set to be revived, now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has broken the political ice with Islamabad with his Christmas visit to Lahore.
Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a strong pitch for greater integration of the South Asian region, even as she underscored the need for speedy implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (Safta) agreement.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka are important partners not only in promoting bilateral trade and economic interactions but also enhancing regional economic integration through SAARC and SAFTA.
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.
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.
The calls to boycott American goods and services in the wake of the recent resolution at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) have highlighted the fact that Sri Lanka’s export trade is heavily dependent on a narrow slew of countries.
The eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation vowed to reduce the size of their respective sensitive lists of non-tradable items and expressed satisfaction over signing of the Saarc Agreement on Trade in Services.
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heads for the Maldives next week to participate in the 17th Saarc summit, it is expected that he will be suggesting some mechanisms to promote a greater level of regional economic integration.
With many of its big ideas still await implementation, the eight-member South Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries seem to have gone for a modest agenda this time.
The last summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), last month in Thimphu, had mandated creation of a South Asia Forum, consisting of diverse stakeholders from all member-countries to generate ideas to further links. This is now taking shape.
The South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) has so far been long on promises but short on actions. It was envisaged to raise inter-regional trade in South Asia - which is one of the world’s least economically integrated regions - to $40 billion by 2015 from $11bn in 2007, shortly after it was agreed. But that now clearly remains a very tall promise.
The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the South Asian countries, particularly India and Pakistan to set aside political issues and introduce free trade policy to bring prosperity in the region.