The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, is an agreement between eight countries in the South Asian region: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The agreement was signed on December 8, 1985, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with the aim of promoting economic and regional cooperation, as well as cultural ties, between the member states.
The SAARC agreement covers a wide range of issues and areas, including trade, investment, education, environment, tourism, and transportation. One of the key objectives of the agreement is to boost economic growth and development in the region by creating a free trade area, where member states can trade goods and services without any barriers or restrictions.
Under the SAARC agreement, member states have agreed to reduce tariffs, eliminate non-tariff barriers, and increase intra-regional trade. The agreement also provides for the creation of a mechanism for resolving trade disputes between member states, known as the SAARC Arbitration Council.
In addition to trade and economic cooperation, the SAARC agreement also aims to promote cultural and social ties between member states. The agreement provides for cooperation in areas such as education, science and technology, health, culture, and sports.
One of the major challenges facing the SAARC agreement is the ongoing border disputes between India and Pakistan. The dispute over the region of Kashmir has led to tensions and mistrust between the two countries, and has hindered progress towards greater regional cooperation.
Despite these challenges, the SAARC agreement has made some significant achievements over the years. In 2006, the SAARC Free Trade Agreement was signed, which aims to create a free trade area in the region. In 2011, the SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters was signed, which provides for cooperation in responding to natural disasters.
Overall, the SAARC agreement has the potential to bring about significant benefits for the member states by promoting economic growth, regional cooperation, and cultural ties. However, overcoming the challenges of border disputes and other internal conflicts will be crucial for the success of the agreement in the future.