Our Bureau

New Delhi, Dec. 1

THE Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, on Thursday said the implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement from January 1, 2006 would further strengthen India's relations with the seven-member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Reacting to the news reaching him from Kathmandu about the deliberations of the Committee of Experts on SAFTA to resolve the outstanding issues, Mr Kamal Nath, currently in Brussels to attend G-90 summit as a special invitee, said the committee has finalised the SAFTA agreement.

An official release issued here said that under Article 7 of SAFTA, a phased tariff liberalisation programme from the date of its coming into force is envisaged.

India's total trade with SAARC countries rose from $4,816.88 million in 2003-04 to $5,205.57 million last year, logging an increase of 8.07 per cent.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 2, 2005)
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