Seven South Asian nations agree on framework for trade zone
The nations of South Asia have reached a broad accord for a free trade zone that could lead to a common currency in the region.
Meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation agreed Jan. 2 on a framework for the South Asia Free Trade Area, a concept previously delayed by animosity between India and Pakistan and fears of smaller countries that they would be overwhelmed by inexpensively made goods from India.
The participating nations, in addition to India and Pakistan, include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan.
The broad accord calls for all seven countries to reduce tariffs to under 5 percent from the current 25 to 30 percent, over a period of 5 to 10 years.