BRING FORWARD ZERO-TARIFFS WITHIN SAARC


BRING FORWARD ZERO-TARIFFS WITHIN SAARC 

SAARC 1324556Tribune Editorial

Bangladesh, as the largest exporter within SAARC to India’s dominant regional economy, has the most to gain by supporting moves to genuine free trade

The SAFTA Ministerial Council is meeting in Colombo to discuss reducing non-tariff barriers between SAARC states and work towards withdrawing all duties by 2021.

Launched by SAARC in 2006, SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area), lags far behind other regional trade groupings in promoting free trade among its members. Intra-regional trade remains low as a proportion of GDP and is actively discouraged by bureaucracy and non-tariff barriers, such as local tax and certification requirements.

Even though there is a strong case that reducing and removing trade barriers would help business across all member states by boosting trade, such efforts have traditionally been held back by a legacy of protectionist attitudes and regional distrust.

Bangladesh, as the largest exporter within SAARC to India’s dominant regional economy, has the most to gain by supporting moves to genuine free trade. Our businesses already have to compete with Indian competition due to cross-border smuggling, but are limited from freely competing by one-sided tariff rules. Getting rid of such barriers would provide a boost to the whole Bangladesh and eastern India region and remove the illogical situation that exists whereby India both seeks to increase transit through Bangladesh while also building its controversial border fence.

Moreover, it would enable more multilateral co-operation on vital energy and water resources and building a regional power grid.

Businesses in all SAARC states have long noted the potential benefits of increasing regional trade. Governments should encourage this further by working to reduce and remove tariffs ahead of the current target date of 2021.

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AUGUST 22, 2014

DHAKATRIBUNE

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About ehsannewyork

An aware citizen..
This entry was posted in CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, SAARC, STRATEGY & POLICY, TRADE BODIES. Bookmark the permalink.

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