All about SAARC
- G.S. Paper II, III
- International organisations
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
- The Secretariat of the Association was set up in Kathmandu on 17 January 1987.
- SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% of the global economy, as of 2015.
- SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nationsas an observer
- SAARC comprises of eight Member States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- Initially, there were 7 members. In 2007, Afghanistan joined as the 8thmember.
Observer members of SAARC:
- States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.
- Russia and Turkey have applied for observer members of SAARC
The objectives of the Association as outlined in the SAARC Charter are:
- i) to promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life;
- ii) to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potentials;
iii) to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia;
- iv) to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems;
- v) to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields;
- vi) to strengthen cooperation with other developing countries;
vii) to strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests; and
viii) to cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.
South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)
- SAFTA was established with a view to promote stronger economic cooperation amongst the SAARC members.
- It was the first step for the transition of an FTA to Customs Union, Common Market and finally the Economic Union.
- The SAFTA Agreement was signed on 6 January 2004 during Twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2006, and the Trade Liberalisation Programme commenced from 1 July 2006.
- The intra-SAARC trade amounts to just a little over 1% of SAARC’s GDP.
- In contrast to SAARC, in ASEAN (which is actually smaller than SAARC in terms of the size of the economy) the intra-bloc trade stands at 10% of its GDP.
- As per a study by the Asian Development Bank, it has been estimated that inter-regional trade in SAARC region possessed the potential of shooting up agricultural exports by $14 billion per year from existing level of $8 billion to $22 billion.
- South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Disaster Management Centre (SDMC-IU) has been set up at Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management (GIDM) Campus, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.
- The 19th SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan was called off as India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan decided to boycott it.
- It was for the first time that four countries boycotted a SAARC summit, leading to its cancellation.
- The reason for cancellation: India and other countries alleged “cross-border terrorist attacks in the region” by Pakistan, particularly Uri attack.
- Forward movement in SAARC has come to a standstill because of the tension between India and Pakistan