South Asia Free Trade Agreement
Business houses in South Asian region are seeking specific timeframe to remove bottlenecks that hinder trade and investment in the SAARC region. It is sad to note that whatever developments take place in the business and political forums; those are not implemented at the operation level.
Bangladesh’s business leaders are rather dismayed at India’s recent duty-free market access offer, as they have expressed the view that mere duty-free access could not ensure free flow of goods into Indian market unless non-tariff and para-tariff barriers are removed.
Pakistan, which is keen on exporting cement and wheat to India, on Thursday said it is willing to fulfil its SAFTA commitments if the issue of non-tariff barriers are addressed.
The SAARC countries are now striving to set a uniform product standard for the group after years of complaints by the weaker ones among them about non-acceptance of their national certifications of product quality by their stronger counterparts. It has persistently posed as a difficult non-trade barrier that has obstructed bilateral trade.
Pakistan is in violation of the agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and the Vienna Convention by discriminating against India in the implementation of the regional accord, aside from risking its credibility as a negotiating partner, Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal told a conference.
Trade experts say countries in the South Asian region can form a major textile and apparel hub - provided they can work together. Right now, mutual mistrust and trade barriers against each other, are stopping SAARC countries from cashing in on a waiting opportunity.
Developments over the past few days have re-confirmed that the developing countries are more eager than developed countries to break the deadlock in multilateral trade. The developing countries have shown ample flexibility, without waiting for a response from the developed world.
The Safta on Wednesday received a big boost with Pakistan agreeing to the views of Saarc leaders that the pact liberalising regional trade be implemented in “letter and spirit”.
The European Commission (EC) has offered to share expertise and experience in all areas of interest to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) as well as in the implementation of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (Safta).
India is ready to consider some “unilateral” steps to address some concerns of Pakistan to see operationalisation of Safta.
Import Policy Regulations are provided in the import regimes of all SAARC countries and Pakistan had only indicated this requirement in its notification to make it transparent.
The ministry of commerce has clarified the situation with regard to a news item published in a section of the press concerning “tariff issues between India and Pakistan” on March 22.
Ahead of the Saarc summit here in April, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday cautioned Pakistan against non-compliance with Saarc Free Trade Area (Safta). He urged Islamabad to revise its position to ensure that global commitments undertaken by the latter were complied with.
The hoped for trade cooperation in South Asia remains a dream, six decades down the line. Even the much trumpeted South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), by some accounts, seems to be sailing down to the sea — the Indian Ocean — unless the region’s leaders cooperate.
Federal Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan said Monday that Pakistan was ready to sort out SAFTA related issues with India through bilateral talks.
A negative fallout of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement could be an increase in the narcotic traffic in the region, said Dr MM Bhatnagar, member of the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB).
Pakistan regrets an Indian decision to review tariff concessions extended to Pakistan under a regional trade agreement but will not retaliate, a senior Pakistani government official said on Tuesday.
With 11 days left for the bilateral trade pact between India and Nepal to lapse, the two neighbours started their two-day talks on Thursday to review the 11-year-old Indo-Nepal trade treaty.
The way India has traditionally managed its border areas - security being the prime concern - will undergo a radical change this year with the Cabinet Committee on Security clearing a revamp of the infrastructure at major land borders to facilitate trade and commerce.
In what is being described as a success for India and a "failure and punishment for Pakistan" on the economic diplomacy front, India has formed a regional trading bloc excluding Islamabad, and including all the SAFTA members, besides Thailand.