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Regional trade

Though the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was created in 1985 to increase political ties between the nations of the subcontinent, as also to develop a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA).

Rhetoric has not yet matched reality, largely due to low levels of intra-regional trade and the sensitive state of relations between India and Pakistan.

However, of late, the bilateral free trade agreements entered into between some of the SAARC members, such as Nepal-India and Sri Lanka-India, show that the members of SAARC have understood the importance of, and the potential for, free trade in the region.

It is earnestly hoped that the leaders of India and Pakistan will initiate the talks in the forthcoming SAARC summit to take effective and concrete steps for setting up SAFTA.

C. Ramesh

Keeramangalam (TN)

Letters to the editor and contributions can be sent by e-mail to: bleditor@thehindu.co.in

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