In the statement of the seventh SAARC summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in April, Member States noted a number of positive developments in the field of nuclear, chemical and conventional disarmament, including the bilateral arms reduction agreements between the United States and Russia. They expressed the hope that the large-scale arms reduction, signed in Moscow in June 1992 and in January 1993 in Moscow, would be carried out. Member States called on all NWS to work together to achieve the ultimate goal of total elimination of nuclear arsenals as soon as possible. SAARC foreign ministers attended the 26th session of the Council of Ministers in Dhaka from 10 to 11 November. Ministers adopted the 22 SAARC Development Goals (SDGs) and reaffirmed their earlier decision to implement the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) on 1 January 2006. They examined the issue of SAARC`s membership in Afghanistan and examined in detail China`s request to establish relations with SAARC. They also approved three major trade agreements, as well as a draft Declaration of Dhaka, to be signed by the heads of state and government at the next summit. Notwithstanding the measures in Articles 4 and 6, the provisions of this agreement do not apply to preferences already granted or granted by one State party to other contracting states outside the framework of the agreement, nor to third countries through bilateral, multilateral and multilateral trade agreements and similar agreements. In addition, States Parties are not required to grant preferences in the SAPTA that undermine the concession renewed under these agreements.
The aim of SAFTA and other bilateral agreements is to reduce tariffs, encourage cross-border investment and, more importantly, formalize unofficial trade through third countries and backdoors. Secretary-General Q.A.M.A. Rahim (Bangladesh) SAARC Secretariat Postbox 4222 Kathmandu, Nepal Phone: (97 71) 221785, 221794 Fax: (97 71) 227033, 223991 Telex: 2561 SAARC NP Email: [email protected] Website: www.saarc-sec.org In the statement of the sixth SAARC summit in December in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Member States assessed current international developments in the political field , especially those that concerned the lives of the people of South Asia. They noted the evolution of power structures in international relations and the reduction of confrontations and tensions, particularly between the United States and the USSR. These have helped to reduce the risk of nuclear confrontation and agreements on disarmament measures. Member States hoped that these developments would limit the search for military power in all regions of the world and expressed the hope that the peace dividend would be used to promote the development of developing countries. They welcomed the trend towards democratic governments close to the people in different parts of the world, including South Asia. „The country should first get the much-needed comparative advantage before concluding bilateral free trade agreements, particularly with countries with huge export capacities at competitive prices,” the economists say. (6) The sectoral basis is that of agreements between the Contracting Parties to eliminate or remove tariff, non-tariff and para-tariff barriers, as well as other promotional or cooperative actions for certain products or product groups closely related to final consumption or production. 6 For products traded under sectoral agreements negotiated under PSATA, specific criteria may apply.