DHAKA, 15 November 2005 — All the seven SAARC leaders have directed the experts to complete the vetting of the outstanding issues of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) by end of this month. According to the Dhaka Declaration of the 13th SAARC Summit concluded here on Sunday, they further asked for completing in time the necessary national procedures to facilitate operation of the SAFTA agreement from Jan. 1, 2006.
A meeting of the negotiating body, the Committee of Experts (COEs) is scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Katmandu to sort out the outstanding issues — finalization of sensitive lists, rules of origin (ROO) and compensation mechanism for the revenue losses by the least developed members.
“The launching of SAFTA would mark an important milestone on the road to a South Asian Economic Union,” the declaration said.
The South Asian leaders directed further measures aimed at trade liberalization as envisaged in the SAFTA agreement, and recognized the need for taking the process of regional economic integration further by expanding the scope of SAFTA to include trade in services, enhanced investment and harmonized standards.