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
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).
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