Addressing the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Ministerial Council in Kathmandu, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said with the recession in the developed markets, all SAARC member-nations would have witnessed a slowdown in their exports.
"This challenge reaffirms our need for greater intra-regional trade integration," he said. In the last five years since signing of the SAFTA, the intra-regional trade in South Asia accounts for only 4.31 per cent of its total international trade.
For instance, out of India's total global trade of $483 billion for 2008-09, its engagement with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries was merely $10 billion.
Sharma also urged Pakistan and Sri Lanka to prune their negative list for the least developed countries.
He said India would soon implement reduction in import tariff for non-least developed countries (NLDCs) like Sri Lanka and Pakistan.