South Asia Free Trade Agreement
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.
A tactical manoeuvre by Pakistan into bilateral free trade arrangements with several Asian neighbours is threatening to throw its multi-billion shilling-a-year-tea trade with Kenya into a spin.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
"There is no compelling case for an FTA with India" warns Dr Hamid Rashid, director general of the Bangladesh ministry of foreign affairs
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.
Bangladesh signed a deal with India to export 8 million pieces of readymade garments to the neighboring country with zero tariffs under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement.
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.
Pakistan has announced tariff reduction on the import of 6936 items under five bilateral and regional trade agreements.
Business houses in South Asian region are seeking specific timeframe to remove bottlenecks that hinder trade and investment in the SAARC region. It is sad to note that whatever developments take place in the business and political forums; those are not implemented at the operation level.
Bangladesh’s business leaders are rather dismayed at India’s recent duty-free market access offer, as they have expressed the view that mere duty-free access could not ensure free flow of goods into Indian market unless non-tariff and para-tariff barriers are removed.