Jul 2 2015
AT the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in 2003, the heads of government proclaimed: “To give effect to the shared aspirations for more prosperous South Asia, the (SAARC) leaders agreed on the vision of a phased and planned process, eventually leading to a South Asian Economic Union”. India’s regional economic integration has been far slower in South Asia, than what has transpired in its relations with ASEAN, with whom India has concluded Free Trade Agreements (FTA), in both goods and services.
Moreover, India has also concluded Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements, going well beyond FTA, with Japan and South Korea. Despite the conclusion of a SAARC Free Trade Agreement, Pakistan has placed crippling trade restrictions on Indian exports and made a farce of pious declarations to establish an Economic Union in South Asia. There is no realistic reason to believe this will change in the foreseeable future.