India to cut tariff lines by 20 % under SAARC pact

ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: Minister for Commerce, Textile and Industry Anand Sharma, with Federal Minister, Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme, Pakistan, Farzana Raja (right) and FICCI Secretary General Rajiv Kumar (centre) at South Asia Forum meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo; Shanker Chakravarty  

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Thursday said that India would meet its commitment of reducing tariff lines under sensitive list by 20 per cent for all by next month under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement signed by South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries.

“The time has come to take a call on reduction of barriers to trade. SAFTA is moving forward on the path of economic integration and India should give full support so that the region realises its full potential,” Mr. Sharma said on the occasion of the first meeting of the South Asia Forum here. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is hosting the meeting.

He said India had been bringing down the peak tariffs under SAFTA in a transparent manner for imports from Pakistan and the peak rates would be 8 per cent. As per the minutes of the meeting of India-Pakistan Joint Working Group on Economic Commercial Cooperation and Trade Promotion held on August 23-24 in New Delhi the peak tariff rates would be 8 per cent by January1, 2012 and 5 per cent by January 1, 2013.

The Pakistani side has assured India that they would also work internally towards meeting its SAFTA obligation. India has already allowed zero duty access for the SAARC least developed countries (LDCs), for almost 97 per cent of the total tariff lines. “India is keen to engage more with Pakistan and develop deeper economic linkages. That will give more depth and width to our relationship,” he said.

India's trade with SAARC stands at a mere $13 billion at a time when our global trade has expanded to cross $600 billion. Indian companies have stepped out and were engaged in foreign shores investing over $100 billion and more than 90 per cent of this investment has been outside South Asia. India investment flows into SAARC have been around $10 billion. “This clearly brings out the imperative of creating a more conducive investment climate a more harmonious linkage between our industry bodies and a strong political commitment for an integrated SouthAsia,” Mr. Sharma said.

The Forum is driven by focussed discussions and active sharing of experiences and best practices among South Asia's diverse public and private stakeholders, for charting out the future course of SAARC and recommend if required, necessary improvements in the existing mechanisms.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:26:39 AM |

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