Daily Sun, March 29, 2012

The South Asian consumers could save US$ 2 billion a year if the member states under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) waived duties on some selected items from the countries within the region.

The SAFTA failed to achieve its desired target as its member states kept a large number of products under their sensitive lists barring access of products in the markets within the region, a recent study shows.

CUTS International, in cooperation with a group of like-minded organisations, conducted the study under a project titled “Cost of Economic Non-Cooperation to Consumers in South Asia” with the support from The Asia Foundation.

The report was published on Wednesday at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) in the city.

The study says representatives of consumer groups in general are more unaware about consumer welfare gains from a more open and balanced international trade regime.

This is because most of them have less knowledge and little or no representation in trade policy making process in their countries and hence, have minimal exposure to the subject, it added.

Zarif Islam, Research Associate of Institute for Policy, Advocacy and Governance (I-PAG), read out a keynote paper at the press conference

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