South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation
If entering into trade agreements is opening up the floodgates to bigger countries, then some in Sri Lanka do not want the flood-gates opened to India, but the government has already done so, for seven other countries besides India. CEPA is carved in stone, some claim, but it is far from reality
Economic integration of all the eight South Asian countries posses a challenge to the political leaders of the region.
Though South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) was operationalised from July 2006 the intra regional trade increased at a snail space from 3.2% in 1980s to only 5.5% in 2008, which is far below when compared with 58% in NAFTA, 54% in European Union, 25% in ASEAN and 22% in COMESA.
Services market within the Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) region could be liberalized. Trade ministers from Saarc countries have agreed to negotiate on liberalising the services market within the region.
Third SAARC Business Leaders Conclave (SBLC) scheduled for November 22-23,in Colombo, with the theme of ‘Regional Cooperation: a catalyst for socio-economic growth in South Asia’ will aim to provide the right platform for a broader and intense engagement between member governments and South Asian Business community.
Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman called for freer movements of capital and labour among the first steps for greater financial integration of South Asian nations, speaking at a global banking conference in India on Wednesday.
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.
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).
Opposition from World Bank keeps Bangladesh away from signing bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with SAARC member countries, a top official of the Commerce Ministry said yesterday.
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.
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.
The World Trade Organisation negotiations to conclude the Doha trade round have broken down. Although Commerce Minister Kamal Nath prefers to treat it as a “pause, not a breakdown”, the prospects for salvaging them are dismal.
"Enhancement of trade and investment is inevitable for economic integration of SAARC, where enormous potential already exits in areas of trade, investment and services, which need to be tapped in true perspective through pooling up resources and synergizing efforts at Government and Public sector level".
A Free Trade Agreement between China and South Asia has been proposed to unleash hitherto untapped potential due to non-preferential trade between China and SAARC nations.
After the recently released, ‘The Growth Report: Strategies for Sustained Growth and Inclusive Development’ released recently by the Commission on Growth and Development, supported by DFID, UK and World Bank among other international organisations, which mentions that in the last 30 years, absolute poverty has fallen dramatically fallen due to sustained growth, and that India is likely to grow at a fast pace for another 15 years, an upcoming report from the Commonwealth Business Council and the Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commenting on the Saarc region, says that the very limited intra-regional trade in South Asia in aggregate terms does not exceed 5% of the region’s total trade.
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.
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.
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".
Broad outlines of an investment promotion and protection agreement among Saarc countries are expected to be discussed at a meeting of South Asian commerce ministers this week.
By observing the overall mood at the 14th SAARC summit that was held in New Delhi in April of 2007, one might sense that a change in the perception about SAARC may be occurring.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon yesterday urged India’s smaller neighbours to overcome political issues to become stakeholders in the India-led regional economic growth by dismantling trade and road and water transport barriers.