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
Photo: Serg!o/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0
While the temptation exists to conclude as many FTAs as possible - in line with the global trend - India’s aspirations to become a global power will not amount to much unless it defends its exclusive zone of influence in South Asia against China.
The current state of play in the Doha Round negotiations underlines the importance of stronger bilateral and regional trading agreements for India. As of now, India has concluded trading agreements with Sri Lanka, Thailand and Singapore. In the regional context, Safta and Bimstec are yet to really takeoff.
The Committee of Experts of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have decided to meet for yet another round and forward the outstanding issues of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) to political level for final decision, a Nepali government official said Wednesday.
In a comprehensive approach to Indo-Pak engagement in Jammu and Kashmir, Former Pak Finance Minister Burki is calling for a sub-regional trade arrangement under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).
Bangladesh, Pakistan and India continue to get locked in the niceties of negotiations on exchange of tariff concessions, particularly for competing products such as textiles at a time when less than six months are left for the agreement on South Asia Free Trade Area (Safta) of the seven-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to come into operation.
Much though economic integration is desirable, the SAARC nations will first have to create a politically harmonious subcontinent, and that is a formidable task. The ball is now in India’s court. It must take frantic efforts to wipe out elements of mistrust, shun big brotherly attitude and help restore confidence among its neighbours.
We need to guard against attempts by vested interests to discourage South-South trade and to divide the economic unity of South Asia.
The three-day meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) sub-group on Investment and Arbitration beginning today in Kathmandu seeks to further the understanding among member states to set up an investment regime and adopt a dispute settlement mechanism in order to increase economic cooperation throughout the region.
Countries across the globe are realising the importance of regional
trading blocks. The South Asian countries too have now felt the urgency of such an arrangement.
When the seven SAARC members signed the free trade agreement (SAFTA) in January 2004, there was some scepticism regarding its progress and implementation, given that SAARC itself had been mired under inter-state tensions.
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