Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation in South Asia

4 Pages Posted: 24 May 2009

Date Written: May 23, 2009


Globalization polarized the world and made international trade very competitive. Each and every country is trying to exploit whatever trade opportunities are available. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) contracting countries are facing various barriers to trade promotion. Due to bureaucratic and time-consuming process of removing the barriers, many countries are now thinking of alternatives like regional and bilateral free trade agreements for duty-free market access for many of their products.

The European Union (EU), considered a model of regional integration, has emerged an economic power. It acts as a unit in various international bodies like the UN and the WTO.

The South Asian leaders formed South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and adopted South Asian Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) and South Asian Freed Trade Agreement (SAFTA), keeping this in mind. The SAFTA came into effect January 01, 2006 for free trade among the eight SAARC member countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. South Asia is miles from the cherished goal of free trade. Bangladesh must study and analyse the opportunities and disadvantages of business under the SAFTA. The business community must strengthen their strengths to take opportunities of the SAFTA and prepare to overcome their weakness to avoid its disadvantages.

Bangladesh does need to assess properly the possible effects of SAFTA on its trade with other SAARC member-countries, whether or not it would increase trade, if not why? Bangladesh should raise the issue of its major exportable products in the negative list in the next trade negotiations with the SAARC countries under the SAFTA. It should study the barriers its businessmen are facing in doing business with the other SAARC countries to pinpoint the measures to make SAFTA more effective.

The study should concentrate on analysing the possible impact the SAFTA would have on Bangladesh's trade with the SAARC countries. It should identify Bangladesh's major exportable products in the negative or sensitive list of the SAARC countries, so that it can take up the issue in next trade negotiations under the SAFTA.

Suggested Citation

Abdin, Md. Joynal, Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation in South Asia (May 23, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Md. Joynal Abdin (Contact Author)

DCCI Business Institute (DBI) ( email )

DCCI Building (11th Floor), 65-66 Motijheel C/A
Dhaka, 1000

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