South Asian Regional Trade Agreements (SARTAs) are agreements between countries in the South Asian region aimed at promoting trade and economic integration. These agreements aim to reduce trade barriers, increase transparency, and facilitate the movement of goods and services within the region. In this article, we will discuss some key SARTAs and their impact on trade in the region.
South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)
The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is a trade agreement between the countries of South Asia, signed in 2004. The agreement aims to promote intraregional trade by reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers. The countries that are part of SAFTA include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
SAFTA has had a significant impact on intraregional trade. Intra-regional trade in South Asia has increased from 5% to 10% since the implementation of SAFTA. However, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed, including non-tariff barriers, lack of physical infrastructure, and political tensions between countries in the region.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The aim of BIMSTEC is to promote economic cooperation and integration among its member countries. The member countries of BIMSTEC include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
BIMSTEC is a relatively new organization and has yet to make a significant impact on intraregional trade. However, the potential for increased trade in the region is significant, given the large markets and growing economies of the member countries.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising eight member states in South Asia. The member countries of SAARC include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
SAARC was established in 1985 with the aim of promoting regional cooperation and economic development in South Asia. However, progress has been slow, and the organization has been criticized for its inability to address political tensions between its member countries.
SARTAs have the potential to play a significant role in promoting economic cooperation and integration in South Asia. However, the success of SARTAs depends on addressing the challenges that hinder trade, including non-tariff barriers, lack of physical infrastructure, and political tensions. Increased intraregional trade could help to boost economic growth and reduce poverty in the region, making SARTAs an essential component of regional development strategies.