New Delhi: The South
Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) should be implemented in letter
and spirit to ensure greater economic integration among south
Asian countries, a Pakistani lawmaker said here Thursday.
"There is a need to implement SAFTA in letter and spirit to
achieve the ideal of a South Asia Economic Union," Member of the
National Assembly (MNA) Farzana Raja said at the first meeting of
South Asia Forum here.
Raja, who holds the status of federal minister as chairperson of
Benazir Income Support Programme, emphasised on the need for
addressing the issue of the sensitive list of goods that is
negatively affecting the trade in the region, especially bilateral
trade between India and Pakistan.
Under the conventions of SAFTA, member countries are required to
clearly spell out a list of goods that it would not want to trade.
Although Pakistan has agreed in principle to move from "positive
list" to "negative list" trade regime with India, as required
under the conventions of SAFTA, it has not implemented it.
Pakistan maintains a "positive list" of 1,945 items which are
allowed to be imported from India. Under SAFTA, Pakistan operates
a sensitive list (negative list) of 1,169 items.
New Delhi has asked Islamabad to prepare the negative list of
items that it does not want to import from India.
Raja, who is heading a high level Pakistani delegation at the
forum, said such issues were hindering the flow of trade in the
"We should address the issues impeding intra-regional trade
including the issues of sensitive list, rules of origin, technical
assistance to least developed countries (LDCs) and mechanism for
compensation of revenue loss to LDCs due to trade liberalisation
programme," she said.