The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an international organization made up of eight South Asian countries. The members are India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives, covering more than 1/5th of the world’s population as of 2019. SAARC also has nine observer states, including the US and China. Although the primary motive of SAARC was to promote regional economic development and cooperation, the organization has now managed to impact international trade as well.
SAARC’s Role in the World of Trade
SAARC has helped the South Asian region come together to focus on holistic economic development by ensuring that the interests of all the member countries are taken into account. Furthermore, it has also played a crucial role in the development of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). This area has allowed for the unrestricted trade of goods and services among the member nations and has rapidly grown trading in recent years. SAARC has also removed trade barriers while making sure that disputes are solved quickly and efficiently, strengthening collective self-reliance among the Asian countries.
In regards to international trade, SAARC has made major contributions by boosting trade volumes. For example, countries like India and Bangladesh have managed to improve their bilateral trade volumes by a significant margin. Similarly, the movement of raw materials among the member states has also become much smoother. Bangladeshi garment manufacturers are now able to source materials from India, thanks to the agreements signed under SAARC. The organization has also helped to promote trade with non-members, prompting observers such as China to take a keen interest in the workings of SAARC. The country has strengthened its trade links with SAARC and is aiming to improve its trade volumes with the block, furthering the impact the organization is having on the world of trade. Since its development, SAARC has been staying true to its mission and is continuing to enhance economic growth and social progress while providing opportunities for South Asian countries to maximize their potential.
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