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Duty free access for LDCs of SAARC

May '07
During the Fourteenth SAARC Summit held in New Delhi on 3-4 April, 2007, India announced its decision to allow duty free access to India to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of SAARC which are signatories of the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), before the end of this year.

These LDC countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal. Afghanistan, which was inducted as a member of SAARC during the Fourteenth SAARC Summit would also be an LDC and signatory of SAFTA after completing the required formalities.

In terms of the phased Trade Liberalization Programme (TLP) of SAFTA, which has become operational from 1st July 2006, India as a Non-Least Developed Country (NLDC) of SAARC and signatory of SAFTA, had already decided to reduce tariffs to zero percent for SAARC LDCs, except on the items kept in the Sensitive List, by 31.12.2008.

With the present decision India would complete SAFTA TLP for LDCs one year in advance. India has already been giving market access to Nepal and Bhutan as per the bilateral Trade agreements signed with these countries.

Except Bangladesh the export potential of Maldives and Afghanistan, which has become new member of SAARC is not significant.

Further, SAFTA tariff concessions for LDCs would exclude those items kept in the Sensitive List of India under SAFTA. The present decision is therefore not likely to have any serious impact on Indian industry and trade.

This was statedby the Minister of State for Commerce, Shri Jairam Ramesh, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

Press Information Bureau Government of India

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