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SAFTA Protocol

Protocol of Accession of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) enters into forceon 7 August 2011.

With the signing of Joint Declaration on the admission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan into the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation during the Fourteenth SAARC Summit held in New Delhi on 3-4 April 2007, Afghanistan became eighth Member of SAARC.  

 A Protocol of Accession of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) was also signed by the Foreign Ministers of SAARC Member States during the Fifteenth SAARC Summit held in Colombo on 2-3 August 2008. 

Paragraph 7 of the Protocol states that “The Protocol shall enter into force on 90th day after issuance of notification thereof by the SAARC Secretariat upon completion of formalities, including ratification by all Contracting States, by which all Contracting States shall issue necessary customs notifications extending the tariff concessions in accordance with the provisions of this Protocol”.

Subsequent to ratification of the Protocol by all Member States, it entered into force on 7 August 2011. The dates of ratification by the Member States are given below:

 

MemberState

 Date of Ratification

Afghanistan

4 May 2011

Bangladesh

22 December 2008

Bhutan

22 January 2009

India

27 October 2009

Maldives

20 April 2010 

Nepal

24 July 2009

Pakistan

23 January 2009

Sri Lanka

22 October 2008

Date of Notification by the SAARC Secretariat

10 May 2011

Date of Entry into Force

7 August 2011

(90th day after issuance of Notification)

 

The Sixth Meeting of the Committee of Experts (Maldives, 11-12 June 2011) welcomed the entry of Afghanistan into the SAFTA process. It also emphasised that all Contracting States may issue necessary customs notifications for extending the tariff concessions to Afghanistan in accordance with the provisions of this Protocol.

During the above Meeting, a question was raised as to which stage Afghanistan will enter the TLP programme in view of the fact that the programme started in 2006 and Member States have already reduced tariffs as per the Programme. 

The Committee agreed that Afghanistan may prepare a schedule of extending tariff concessions and inform how they would like to implement SAFTA TLP. The delegation of Afghanistan agreed to submit a linear tariff reduction schedule for consideration by other Member States by 30 June 2011 and to implement TLP with effect from 7 August 2011 as per the Notification issued by the Secretariat.

In accordance with the above decision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kabul has forwarded the schedule of extending tariff concessions under SAFTA containing a list of 1056 Tariff Lines subject to the Trade Liberalization Program under SAFTA. The remaining tariff lines, excluding items in the Sensitive List, have tariff rates of 5% or below.