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South Asia Free Trade Agreement

From Academic Kids

The South Asia Free Trade Agreement is an agreement reached at the 12th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit at Islamabad, capital of Pakistan on 6 January 2004. It creates a framework for the creation of a free trade zone covering 1.4 billion people in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives.The seven foreign ministers of the region signed a framework agreement on SAFTA with zero customs duty on the trade of practically all products in the region by end 2012. The SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA), with concessional duty on sub-continent trade, will transform into SAFTA two years from now, that is beginning of 2006. The new agreement will be operational following the ratification of the agreement by the seven governments. SAFTA requires the developing countries in South Asia, that is, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to bring their duties down to 20 percent in the first phase of the two year period ending in 2007. In the final five year phase ending 2012, the 20 percent duty will be reduced to zero in a series of annual cuts. (The least developing country group in South Asia consisting of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives, get an additional three years to reach zero duty, that is, they have time till 2017.)

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