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SAARC
 

SAARC

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    SAARC SAARC Document Transcript

    • 1. Introduction The growth of regional trade blocs has been one of the major developments in international relations in recent years. Virtually all countries are members of a bloc, and many belong to more than one. Regional agreements vary widely, but all have the objective of reducing barriers to trade between member countries. At their simplest, these agreements merely remove tariffs on intra-bloc trade in goods, but many go beyond that to cover non-tariff barriers and to extend liberalization to investment and other policies. At their deepest, they have the goal of economic union and involve the construction of shared executive, judicial, and legislative institutions. The success of states in today’s world is not so much measured in terms of capacity for defending borders or creating uniquely national institutions, but in terms of ability to adapt to regional and global trends, promote exports, attract investments, and skilled labour, provide a beneficial environment for transnational companies, build attractive institutions of research and higher learning, manage political influence on the regional and global scene, and also brand the nation in the international market-place. There are many regional organizations and economic unions like Europe Union, not only in western this has grown in different parts of the world. This includes South Asia and the regional organization known as SAARC, which has announced the goal of attaining an economic union and expressed the desire for a common currency. And in this report you can find information on this regional group. 1
    • 2. Historical development of the region The idea of a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was arise in 1980. The foreign Ministers of the future SAARC countries met at Colombo in 1981 to discuss the issue of regional cooperation and agreed upon the principles of unanimity in decision making and keeping bilateral disputes out of the framework of regional cooperation. The Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) was endorsed in a Foreign Secretary meeting held at Dhaka in August 1982. The IPA identified eleven areas of cooperation – agriculture, communications, education-culture-sports, environment and meteorology, health and population activities, prevention of drug trafficking and drug abuse, rural development, science and technology, tourism, transport, and women in development. To translate the objectives enshrined in the Charter the Foreign Ministers of member countries met in Colombo for the first Preparatory meeting of SAARC. They agreed on the agenda for SAARC, which included issues like rural development, agriculture, meteorology, telecommunication, health and population, science and technology, transport, and posts & telegraph services. The third meeting held in Thimpu agreed on sports, arts and culture, and planning and development, which were incorporated into the list of areas for cooperation. The Thimpu meeting also led to agreement on the creation of an institutional framework for SAARC and decided the venue and the dates of the first SAARC summit. After these three preparatory and first meeting of the SAARC summit was held in Dhaka in 1985. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of South Asian Nation. It was established on 8 December 1985 and has the Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as its members. And also Australia, China, European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and United states are 9 observers’ membership countries. There are Three Potential future members China, Myanmar and Russia. 2
    •  China has expressed interest in upgrading its status from an observer to a full member of SAARC. Supported by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka.  Mynnmar has expressed interest in upgrading its status from an observer to a full member of SAARC.  Russia has expressed interest in becoming an observer of SAARC. Supported by India. Hardly anyone would claim that SAARC is going well in every respect, and it’s true that tangible results are few and far between. But there have been successes: over the last 25 years, despite extremely difficult political circumstances, SAARC has managed to create situations, institutions and forums where Heads of State have had to shake each others’ hands and go into talks together. SAARC has tackled important topics for the region such as a social charter, development agreements and even the sensitive subject of fighting terrorism and has achieved some good results. The food and development banks are important steps in the right direction. Exchanges in the areas of civil society and science have become one of the pillars of South Asian integration efforts. 3
    • 3. Objectives of SAARC The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka is a dynamic institutionalized regional cooperation in South Asia, basically perceived as an economic grouping to work together for accelerating the pace of socio-economic and cultural development. The objectives of the association as defined in the SAARC Charter are:  To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia;  To contribute to develop mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problem;  To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields;  To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries;  To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interest; and  To cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes. Cooperation in the SAARC is based on respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, noninterference in internal affairs of the member states and mutual benefit. However, it is true that most of the programmes and achievements of SAARC exist on paper. The much talked about SAARC Food Security Reserve could not be utilized to meet the needs of Bangladesh during its worst natural disaster in 1991. It is also true that most SAARC activities are confined to the holding of seminars, workshops, and short training programmes. These activities may be useful, but they do not address priority areas and lack visibility and regional focus so essential for evolving a South Asian identity. Most importantly, SAARC suffers from an acute resource crunch. Unless the organization is successful in mobilizing funds and technical know-how from outside sources, most of its projects cannot be implemented and, thus, its relevance will remain limited. 4
    • 4. Progress of the trade block Cooperation in the core economic areas amongst Member Countries was initiated following the completion of the Study on Trade, Manufactures and Services (TMS) in June 1991. Among other things, the TMS Study recognized economic cooperation as an imperative for promoting all-round development of South Asia. Following are the main economic agenda of the SAARC. a. SAARC Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA) In December 1991, the Sixth Summit held in Colombo approved the establishment of an Inter-Governmental Group (IGG) to formulate an agreement to establish a SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) by 1997. Given the common consent within SAARC, the Agreement on SAPTA was signed on 11 April 1993 and entered into force on 7 December 1995 well in advance of the date contracted by the Colombo Summit. The Agreement reflected the desire of the Member States to promote and sustain mutual trade and economic cooperation within the SAARC region through the exchange of acknowledgment. The basic principles underlying SAPTA are: a) Overall reciprocity and mutuality of advantages so as to benefit equitably all Contracting States, taking into account their respective level of economic and industrial development, the pattern of their external trade, and trade and tariff policies and systems; b) Negotiation of tariff reform step by step, improved and extended in successive stages through periodic reviews; c) Recognition of the special needs of the Least Developed Contracting States and agreement on concrete preferential measures in their favour; and d) Inclusion of all products, manufactures and commodities in their raw, semiprocessed and processed forms. 5
    • b. South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) SAPTA was imagine 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 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 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 aspect in mind the need to fix realistic and achievable targets. The Agreement on SAFTA, drafted by the COE, was signed on 6 January 2004 during the twelfth SAARC Summit in Islamabad. The Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2006. Under the Trade Liberalization Programme scheduled for completion in ten years by 2016, the customs duties on products from the region will be progressively reduced. However, under an early harvest programme for the Least Developed Member States, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are to bring down their customs duties to 0-5 % by 1 January 2009 for the products from such Member States. The Least Developed Member States are expected to benefit from additional measures under the special and differential treatment accorded to them under the Agreement. c. South Asian Economic Union The Eleventh Summit provided further impulsion to the regional economic cooperation to give effect to the shared aspirations for a more prosperous South Asia. At the Summit, the Leaders agreed to advance cooperation in the core areas of trade, finance and investment to realize the goal of an integrated South Asian economy in a step-by-step manner. They also agreed to the vision of a development and planned process eventually leading to a South Asian Economic Union. At the Twelfth SAARC Summit the SAARC FINANCE was given the responsibility to study and make recommendations on the early and overall realization of a South Asian Economic Union (SAEU). It was also tasked with examining the concept of a South Asian Development Bank. 6
    • 5. Impact to the global trade Trend in SAARC’s global trade as also intra-SAARC trade in recent years are presented in this chapter. Further, trade developments in each SAARC member countries as also developments in SAARC trade integration are also presented in the chapter. During the period 2000 to 2006, the total exports of SAARC countries increased from US$ 63.5 billion to US$ 161.4 billion. The growth rate of exports also increased from 3.9% in 2001 to 23.9% in 2006. Among all the member countries, India is the largest exporter followed by Pakistan and Bangladesh. Table 5.1 presents the trend in SAARC’s global exports. The total global imports of SAARC countries also increased from US$ 79.5 billion in 2000 to US$ 255.3 billion in 2006, registering more than a three-fold rise during the period. India is the largest importer in the SAARC region followed by Pakistan and Bangladesh. Thus, data on exports and imports reveal that SAARC as a trade bloc experienced trade deficit of US$ 93.9 billion with the world in 2006. Table 5.2 presents the trend in SAARC’s global imports. Table 5.1: SAARC’S GLOBAL EXPORTS DURING 2000-2006 (US$ billions) Year Countries 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Afghanistan 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.3 Bangladesh 5.6 5.7 5.4 6.2 7.6 8.5 12.7 Bhutan 0.10 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.3 - India 42.6 45.2 50.5 61.1 75.4 97.9 122.7 Maldives 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 Nepal 0.7 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.8 Pakistan 8.9 9.2 9.9 11.9 13.3 16.0 17.2 Sri Lanka 5.5 4.7 4.7 5.1 5.8 6.4 7.5 63.5 66.0 71.4 85.4 103.2 130.3 161.4 - (3.9) (8.2) (19.6) (20.8) (26.3) (23.9) Total SOURCE: Direction of Trade Statistics Year Book 2007, IMF. 7
    • Table 5.2: SAARC’S GLOBAL IMPORTS DURING 2000-2006 (US$ billions) Year Countries 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Afghanistan 0.6 0.6 1.0 1.6 2.0 3.0 3.8 Bangladesh 9.0 9.0 7.8 9.8 11.6 13.9 17.8 Bhutan 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.4 - India 50.3 59.0 58.9 74.0 99.8 134.7 185.0 Maldives 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.9 Nepal 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 2.4 Pakistan 10.7 10.2 11.2 13.0 17.8 25.4 33.8 Sri Lanka 6.7 5.7 6.0 6.7 8.0 8.9 11.6 79.5 86.7 87.1 107.4 142.0 189.90 255.3 – (9.1) (0.46) (23.3) (32.2) (33.01) (35.2) Total SOURCE: Direction of Trade Statistics Year Book 2007, IMF. Figure 5.1 draws the trend in intra-SAARC trade (exports plus imports), vis-a-vis trend in SAARC’s global trade. A comparison of the trends would help to highlight the floatability in intra-SAARC trade especially after 2003, as compared to SAARC’s global trade. Figure 5.1 8
    • 6. Challenges to the trade block A growing emphasis on attracting foreign investment and seeking access to new markets in SAARC states indicates that economic progress is central to the future of South Asia. SAARC, however, is likely to play only a limited role in that future because of India’s considerable position of power over the other SAARC states. This imbalance of power within SAARC allows conflicts between India and its neighbors to undermine organizational unity. Clashes between South Asian countries end up jeopardizing the formation and effectiveness of regional trade agreements. They also lead individual SAARC countries to advance their economic interests through bi-lateral agreements, reduce the incentive to connect in multi-laterally. Some factors that are discussed below are main challenges to the trade block,  Weak port and transport infrastructure: The poor port and transport infrastructure, regulatory environment. Delays in transit due to road or port condition, and customs procedures raise the costs for exporters.  Too small and too few with similar revealed comparative advantage: The South Asian region comprises of only eight countries compared to more than twenty in East Asia and Latin America, coupled with the dominance of a large country namely India, which tends to trade less as a share of GDP.  Difficult business environment: Besides the high levels of protection in the region, the procedural delays stemming from institutional requirements have been a major factor inhibiting trade and business across borders.  Restrictive rules of origin and destination: Rules of origin in preferential or free trade agreements help determine the products for tariff preferences but high tariff barriers and tight rules of origin raises the risk of trade-diversion and the port-specific restrictions have increased transactions costs of trading across border.  Fear of India: There is a real fear of de-industrialization in some sectors where Indian manufactures could compete out domestic products in the smaller countries, which are far less diversified than India. For example, in Pakistan where textiles and clothing sector is considered to be the major driving force for economic growth, and contributed more than 60% in total export value, a business section feels threatened by the Indian imports. 9
    • Different Inter & Intra State Conflicts in the region 1. Kashmir border conflict between India & Pakistan 2. India- Pakistan nuclear tension 3. India- Nepal trade disputes 4. India- Sri Lanka security issues 5. India-Bangladesh boarder conflicts 6. Pakistan-Afghanistan religious and sectarian disputes 7. Pakistan-Bangladesh disputes over nationalism 8. Punjab separatist movement (India) 9. Nagaland issue (India) 10. Sectarian violence ( Pakistan) 11. Balochistan and North-Western Frontier Province communal tension 12. Sri Lanka’s civil conflict 13. Maoist struggle in Nepal 14. Bangladesh – Chakma insurgency 15. Communal and religious tension in Afganistan 10