logo logo


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

Countries should be allowed to withdraw agreements
South Asian Economists and Academics said that integrating the region through services liberalization would require a flexible approach that permits special and differential treatment of least developed countries in the region and also of countries least prepared to open up their services for trade.
SAARC in negotiations to liberalise trade in services
South Asia has commenced negotiations in to incorporating trade in services to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) but a lack of data could slow things down, a senior Economist said.
Indo-SAARC Trade: An Ocean Of Opportunities
With the major economic superpowers like USA, UK and Japan facing recession and collapse of major iconic banks, the world is now unanimous in its view that India, China and Brazil can no longer be ignored. Indo-SAARC trade relations now have a greater role to play especially in terms of the opportunities it provides to Indian SME’s (Small medium enterprises).
NTBs, bureaucratic procedures real impediments to SAFTA
“Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and bureaucratic procedures are real impediments to the implementation of SAFTA in true perspective therefore the Governments of the respective countries of the region need to enter into policy implementation phase instead of policy formulation”.
Extend Kashmir initiative to Pakistan, Bangladesh
For the first time in 60 years, 30 trucks rolled across the Line of Control in Kashmir on Tuesday, carrying mostly fruit and vegetables. It is a small beginning but a very significant one. More trucks will run regularly on routes between Srinagar and Muzafarrabad and between Poonch and Rawalakote.
Cabinet paves way for Afghanistan’s entry into SAFTA
The Union Cabinet on Friday paved the way for the formal entry of Afghanistan into the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA).
S Asia shapes its economic roadmap
The decision announced by President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the UN this week to start cross-border trade in October between Pakistan and India could be seen in future years as the key that unlocks South Asia’s growth, as it may begin to accelerate a full normalisation of relations through trade. In the process, an improved bilateral relationship could have tangible spill-over effects on the region.
SAARC rhetoric and economic realities
The focus of this year’s SAARC Summit was on terrorism. Economic cooperation, regional food security and the perennial issue of poverty reduction were among the economic issues that were deliberated. SAARC summits have tended to be high on rhetoric and low on achievement. Once upon a time, NATO was described as No Action Talk Only.
Elusive SAFTA
Fourteen SAARC Summits have been held till date, but the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is yet to take off! While ASEAN and EU are reaping the benefits of a common market, South Asian countries continue to lag behind. Since the start of our liberal economic policies we have been opening up our market to foreign goods and investments, such as China and South East Asia .
India to provide textiles’ duty free market for SAFTA
India will provide duty reduction to the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) member countries ranging from zero to five percent within ten years, said Minister of State for Textiles, E V K S Elangovan today.


  • 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