Date and Time: Thursday 5th December 2013 ~~~ 16:00 – 17:30
Location: Bougainville Room
Theme: Strengthening the Multilateral Trading System


Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER)

Session Objectives

• To identify impediments to intra-SAARC trade (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and assess the existing measures undertaken for trade facilitation by SAARC members
• To suggest measures for trade facilitation in the region


As the WTO moves closer to finalizing a multilateral deal on trade facilitation, the South Asian countries are gearing towards undertaking reforms that would facilitate trade and lower the costs of trading, within the SAARC region as well as with the rest of the world. However, several challenges still need to be addressed. Despite signing of the SAFTA agreement and taking up trade related reforms in recent times, SAARC remains the least integrated of all regional networks around the globe. Continued existence of high transaction costs; and tariff, non-tariff, transport and transit barriers have resulted in inefficiencies in conducting trade; which have also been reflected in the repeated poor performance of the South Asian region on trade indicators of Doing Business Index, released by the World Bank. GATT articles V, VIII and X are very relevant for the contiguous group of South Asian countries, considering their recent efforts and inhibitions towards providing a trade facilitating environment. With the objective of highlighting both their efforts towards undertaking trade facilitation reforms and the remaining gaps, the session brings together some distinguished panelists from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh who have an expertise in trade issues relating to the South Asian region. A holistic analysis of bilateral and multilateral trade issues faced by the South Asian countries will help put together the agenda for trade facilitation in the future.