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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

Saarc members to approve SAFTA
All the eight Saarc member countries would approve the inclusion of Services Sector in the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) during the coming schedule meeting of SAARC in June 2008. The SAARC countries signed SAFTA in 2006 which is now being expanded to the services sector also in June 2008.
Tariff barriers hitting export to South Asia: Iftekhar
Foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury has said export of Bangladesh’s commodities to its South Asian neighbours is facing hurdles because of tariff barriers and restrictions.
Shift trade to SAARC region from slowing US, Govt to business
The government today asked the country’s business houses to shift focus to the SAARC region and exploit the opportunities there, especially when the US and the European economies are slowing down.
Trade potential between India, Pak is untapped
If to some people, the words ‘cricket’ and ‘conflict’ come to mind when thinking of India and Pakistan, we need to update the language to embrace another two ‘Cs’ -connections and commerce.
SAFTA: How successful has it been so far?
The South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) signed by the members of the SAARC and implemented in July 2006, has since been a matter of concern for the countries involved, regarding how effective it is in increasing the economic wellbeing of the region in general. When it was initially signed, the goals included forming a common currency for the region and forming a Customs Union (CU) which would eventually lead to Total Economic Integration.
Sri Lanka could gain more in next phase of trade liberalization: study
A new study on a south Asian regional trade deal has said Sri Lanka will gain more in the next phase of liberalisation but the island’s private sector representatives have expressed scepticism about the outcome.
Pawar urges SAARC countries to strengthen SAFTA
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday urged the SAARC countries to strengthen the regional trade and pointed out that the region does not correspond to the so-called natural trading partner hypothesis and "SAFTA’s economic relevance is being questioned".
India looks to new Govt. in Pak to implement SAFTA
India on Monday exuded confidence that the new government in Islamabad will take immediate steps to implement the South Asian Free Trade Agreement with New Delhi and take necessary measures, including duty changes, to facilitate trade.
India acts to encourage free trade in South Asia
In a bid to accelerate the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (Safta), India will let 244 additional items to be freely traded with least developed countries in the region.
Govt may cut duties for Afghanistan’s Safta entry
As Afghanistan is likely to be inducted as the eight member of the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) by February 2008, minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh today said India will bring down duties on 4,356 tariff lines (products) to zero for facilitating trade with Afghanistan.


  • 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