Areas of Cooperation

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South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)

SAPTA was envisaged primarily as the first step towards the transition to a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) leading subsequently towards a Customs Union, Common Market and Economic Union. In 1995, the Sixteenth session of the Council of Ministers (New Delhi, 18-19 December 1995) agreed on the need to strive for the realization of SAFTA and to this end an Inter-Governmental Expert Group (IGEG) was set up in 1996 to identify the necessary steps for progressing to a free trade area. The Tenth SAARC Summit (Colombo, 29-31 July 1998) decided to set up a Committee of Experts (COE) to draft a comprehensive treaty framework for creating a free trade area within the region, taking into consideration the asymmetries in development within the region and bearing in mind the need to fix realistic and achievable targets.

The SAFTA Agreement was signed on 6 January 2004 during Twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2006, and the Trade Liberalization Programme commenced from 1st July 2006. Following the Agreement coming into force the SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC) has been established comprising the Commerce Ministers of the Member States. To assist the SMC, a SAFTA Committee of Experts (SCOE) has been formed. SCOE is expected to submit its report to SMC every six months. The SAFTA Agreement states that the “the SMC shall meet at least once every year or more often as and when considered necessary by the Contracting States. Each Contracting State shall chair the SMC for a period of one year on rotational basis in alphabetical order.” The Meetings of SMC and SCOE held so far are:

MEETINGS OF SAFTA COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS

1.

First Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts

Dhaka, 18-19 April 2006

 

2.

Second Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts

SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, 24-25 February 2007

3.

Third Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts

New Delhi, 1-2 March 2008

 

4.

Fourth Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts

SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu

4-5 November 2008

5.

Fifth Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts

Kathmandu, 26-27 Oct 2009

6.

Sixth Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts

Maldives, 11-12 June 2011  

7.

Special Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts

SAARC Secretariat,

23 September 2011  

8.

Seventh  Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts

Pakistan, 14-15 February 2012  

9. Special Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts on NTMs/PTMs SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, 31 July - 1 August 2013
10. Eighth Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts Colombo, 21-22 August 2013
11. Ninth Meeting of SAFTA Committee of Experts Thimphu, 22-23 July 2014 (scheduled)
 

MEETINGS OF SAFTA MINISTERIAL COUNCIL

 

1.

First Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council

Dhaka, 20 April 2006

 

2.

Second Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council

SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu, 26 February 2007

3.

Third Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council

New Delhi, 3 March 2008

 

4.

Fourth  Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council

Kathmandu, 28 Oct 2009

 

5.

Fifth  Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council

Maldives, 13 June 2011

 

6.

Sixth  Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council

Pakistan, 16 February 2012

 

7. Seventh Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council Colombo, 23 August 2013
8. Eighth Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council Thimphu, 24 July 2014

 Intra-SAARC Trade Flows under SAFTA

The exports under SAFTA have been witnessing considerable upward trend since the launching of the Trade Liberalisation Programme (TLP).

As of 20 September 2013, the total f.o.b. value of exports by Member States under SAFTA has reached about  US$ 3 billion since launching of SAFTA Trade Liberalisation Programme (i.e. July 2006). Still intra-SAARC trade flows under SAFTA are far below the potential.  For smooth functioning of the SAFTA, customs notifications for implementing Trade Liberalisation Programme (TLP) are issued as per the agreed timeline by the Member States. While reduction in the size of Sensitive Lists is important to increase the quantum of regional trade, efforts are being made to take out those products out of the Sensitive Lists that are of export interests to the SAARC Member States for trade within South Asia.