Rahul Jaiswal, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, discusses the issue of low trade integration among SAARC members in his well researched paper.
“The growth of intra-regional trade has remained subdued. Even after 25 years of existence, SAARC has failed to integrate well to take advantage of the opportunities. The main reason for the tardy progress of SAARC integration is abysmally low-level of trade between two largest partners namely INDIA and PAKISTAN, and another reason behind this low-level is similar trade pattern among member nations. Apart from tariff rates and market access, trade facilitation measures should be carried out across SAARC for improving trade ties along with abolishment of non-tariff barriers. Although major SAARC countries are better synchronised in terms of their GDP cycles, but the trade integration remains to be low due to protectionism among SAARC members. SAARC countries will need to take concrete steps for harmonization of customs and other procedures.”