Intra Region Trade: A Regional Perspective among SAARC countries


Vol NO: VOL. 14, ISSUE 85,

"The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded in 1985 by seven South Asian countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined the group later. SAARC emerged from the pressing need for intra-regional engagement to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia, and over the years it has become an important player in the global development strategy. Linking Central and West Asia with Southeast and East Asia, the region is home to the world’s largest working-age population and a quarter of the world middle-class consumers. The region has experienced a long period of robust economic growth, averaging 6 per cent over a period of 20 years. This strong growth has translated into declining poverty and impressive improvement in human development. Intra-regional trade (extending from Kabul to Chittagong) was as high as 19 percent in 1948, declined to a mere 2 per cent by 1967. However, over the years the trade within the region took pace and increased slightly to 5.7 per cent in 2012. Trade within the European Union (EU) is 61.8 per cent and for Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is 25.9 per cent (Fig 1). In 2012, intra-regional trade in South Asia was estimated to be 1

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    Staff Reporter

    The intra-regional trade among the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries is exceedingly low as compared to the European and South East Asian countries. According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) report, ‘The South Asian Century: Progressing Towards Regional Integration - A Study’, 2014, there is a lot of untapped economic opportunity within South Asia while there is also high dependence on extra-regional trade and investment.

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