By: Shukria Kohistani
The total business of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries was $125 billion, while the trade between SAARC member countries reached $23 billion in 2018.
In a ceremony held on the occasion of marking the 35th anniversary of creation the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Kabul, former minister of trade Wahidullah Shahrani said continued political problems between SAARC member countries have caused that capacity and potential of the organization was not used.
He added that owing to various reasons in particular lack of cooperation between SAARC member countries, presence of uncommon tariffs and negative list between them have caused that trade has not improved between the SAARC member countries.
Currently, there is 95 percent trade between the SAARC member countries and foreign countries, while eight countries of the organization have only 5 percent trade between each other.
Meanwhile, SAARC’s deputy for chamber of commerce Khairuddin Mayel said the organization was founded 35 years ago in Bangladesh in consideration to economic cooperation.
“The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has active role between its members in economic sector and today the organization’s economic dimensions are unprecedented in the region and world,” Mayel added.
In the ceremony, deputy of Afghanistan chamber of commerce Younus Momand said political problems between a number of SAARC member countries have caused that capacity within the organization was not used, adding that trade between countries and multilateral agreements can result in increasing investment and trade in SAARC.
One of the major objectives of formation of SAARC forum was to accelerate the process of economic and social development in member States. Subsequently, trade promotion was also actively pursued as an area of economic co-operation. The possibility of Intra-SAARC trade expansion has been investigated using macroeconomic and regional trade link models. It is generally found that inter-country differences in production and consumption patterns, investment behavior, tax and non-tax structures leave considerable scope for further regional trade expansion.
Established in 1985, SAARC or South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is a group of eight countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. They all are neighbor countries that share a lot of similarities in terms of religion and culture. Because of this Indian has adopted a liberal trade policy with these countries.