29 February 2012
The Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) came into force from 1st January, 2006. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are categorized as Non-Least Developed Contracting States (NLDCS) and Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal are categorized as Least Developed Contracting States (LDCS).
Afghanistan which became the eighth member of SAARC during the 14th SAARC Summit held on 3-4 April 2007 in New Delhi is due to become a party to the SAFTA Agreement as an LDC member.
Article 7 of the SAFTA Agreement provides for a phased tariff liberalization programme (TLP) under which, in two years, NLDCS would bring down tariffs to 20%, while LDCS will bring them down to 30%. Non-LDCS will then bring down tariffs from 20% to 0-5% in 5 years (Sri Lanka 6 years), while LDCS will do so in 8 years. NLDCs will reduce their tariffs for L.D.C. products to 0-5% in 3 years. This TLP would cover all tariff lines except those kept in the sensitive list (negative list) by the member states.
The salient features of the four Annexes of SAFTA Agreement are as under:
1. Rules of Origin:
1. For giving preferential access to the Member Countries under SAFTA, the goods shall have undergone substantial manufacturing process in the exporting countries. The substantial manufacturing process are defined in terms of twin criteria of Change of Tariff Heading (CTH) at four-digit Harmonized Coding System (HS) and value content of 40% (30% for LDCSs).
2. Apart from the general rules, to provide for Products-Specific Rules (PSR) for 191 tariff lines to accommodate the interest of LDCSs given their limited base for natural resources and undiversified industrial structure. The Products Specific Rules have been provided clearly on technical grounds i.e. where both inputs and outputs are at the same four-digit HS level.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND RULES REGULATIONS READ LINK: