South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)

The South Asian Free Trade Area or SAFTA is an agreement reached on 6 January 2004 at the 12th SAARC summit in Islamabad, Pakistan. It created a free trade area in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The seven foreign ministers of the region signed a framework agreement on SAFTA to reduce customs duties of all traded goods to zero by the year 2016.

The Agreement on SAARC Preferential trading Arrangement (SAPTA) was signed on 11 April 1993 and entered into force on 7 December 1995, with the desire of the Member States of SAARC (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives) to promote and sustain mutual trade and economic cooperation within the SAARC region through the exchange of concessions.

The 17th SAARC summit was held in November 10, 2011 in the South Province of Maldives (Addu Atoll, Fuvahmulah). The theme of the summit was “Building Bridges”.

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