South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
Agreement on a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) envisaged to reduce customs duties among member countries to zero by 2016. However, due to long-list of product is a so-called ‘negative list’, so far, only less than 5000 commodities avail such privilege. The signatories of the Agreement include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Nepal, due to its status as a Least Developed Country, avails special and differential treatment. Thus, Nepal is allowed smaller initial tariff reduction and have a longer list of sensitive products—the products that they are allowed to exempt from tariff reduction.
In addition, SAARC member nations have also signed SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) in April 2010 to promote growth of trade in services in the region. The SATIS aims to promote and enhance trade in services among the member states in a mutually beneficial and equitable manner. The Agreement provides for expanding intra-regional investments, and trade liberalization in services sector. Areas such as banking, telecommunication and tourism (including airline services) are considered as major areas of interests in the field of trade in services.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
BIMSTEC member countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand—agreed upon framework agreement for Free Trade Agreement in 2004 to promote intra-regional trade. However, the organization and member states have yet to finalise the related agreements that will make the free trade area operational.