Delhi to ease non-tariff barriers to boost Safta trade
India will address the concerns of its Saarc neighbours over non-tariff trade barriers before March this year when commerce ministers of the member-countries meet in New Delhi.
“We hope to be making substantial movement forward in addressing both real and perceived non-tariff barriers before the Safta ministerial meeting in March”, Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday.
Pointing out that Safta (South Asian Free Trade Area) has started yielding “good” results, Ramesh said removal of non-tariff barriers is equally important for further improving the regional free trade agreement.
Emphasising the importance of border trade, he said India has identified 13 centres, including seven along the border with Bangladesh, where it has made investments to upgrade the infrastructure.
Under this project, more than dozen land customs stations would be upgraded into integrated check posts in the next three years in order to boost cross-border trade, Ramesh said.
Addressing a seminar on “SAARC: Towards Greater Connectivity”, he said there were complaints from South Asian countries that non-tariff barriers were hindering trade growth while India was reducing tariffs.
However, India wanted to signal that it was not just an exporter but importer of goods as well, Ramesh said.
India has been maintaining trade surplus with all Saarc countries.
A committee formed by the Indian Commerce Ministry to examine the non-tariff barriers has finalised its report and identified complaints received from SAARC countries, he said adding these were “not barriers specific to South Asia but are obstacles caused by procedural issues and lack of documentation on our part”.