South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

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South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
(In Detail)
Membership 7 member states
4 observers
Secretariat Headquarters Kathmandu
Established December 8, 1985
Secretary General Chenkyab Dorji
Official website

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, proposed by Ziaur Rahman, the then-president of Bangladesh, was established on December 8, 1985. SAARC is an association of eight countries of South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and most recently admitted, Afghanistan. These countries comprise an area of 5,127,500 km2 and a fifth of the world's population.

SAARC encourages cooperation in agriculture, rural development, science and technology, culture, health, population control, narcotics control and anti-terrorism. SAARC has intentionally stressed these "core issues" and avoided more divisive political issues, above all the Kashmir dispute which bitterly divides the two largest member states, India and Pakistan. However, political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings.

In 1993, SAARC countries signed an agreement to gradually lower tariffs within the region. Nine years later, at the 12th SAARC summit at Islamabad, SAARC countries devised the South Asia Free Trade Agreement which created a framework for the establishment of a free trade zone covering 1.4 billion people. This agreement went into force on January 1, 2006.



Current members:

Observer nations:

List of SAARC Summits

  1. December 7-8, 1985 at Dhaka
  2. November 16-17, 1986 at Bangalore
  3. November 2-4, 1987 at Kathmandu
  4. December 29-31, 1988 at Islamabad
  5. November 21-23, 1990 at Malé
  6. December 21, 1991 at Colombo
  7. April 10-11, 1993 at Dhaka
  8. May 2-4, 1995 at New Delhi
  9. May 12-14, 1997 at Malé
  10. July 29-31, 1998 at Colombo
  11. January 4-6, 2002 at Kathmandu
  12. January 2-6, 2004 at Islamabad
  13. November 12-13, 2005 at Dhaka

Areas of Cooperation

  • Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Health, Population Activities & proverty
  • Women, Youth and Children
  • Environment and Forestry
  • Science and Technology and Meteorology
  • Human Resources Development
  • Transport
  • Disaster management
  • Removal of terrorism

Future Membership

On 22 February 2005, the Foreign Minister of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi, indicated Iran's interest in joining SAARC, saying that his country could provide the region with "East-West connectivity".Template:Ref

The People's Republic of China has also been suggested as a possible SAARC member, such membership being encouraged by Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, India is more reluctant about the prospect of Chinese membership, while Bhutan does not even have diplomatic relations with China.Template:Ref At the 2005 summit in Dhaka, member states decided to give China and Japan observer status.

In April 2006, the United States of America and South Korea were also given observers status. [1]

Results of Dhaka 2005 Summit

On November 13, 2005, the Dhaka Summit issued a declaration to admit the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as a member, and to accord observer status to China and Japan. Template:Ref The nations also agreed to organize development funds under a single financial institution with a permanent secretariat, that would cover all SAARC programs ranging from social, to infrastructure, to economic ones.

Comparision with other Regional blocs

Template:Most Active Regional blocs

See also


  1. Template:Note Iran's membership prospects
  2. Template:Note China's membership prospects
  3. Template:Note Afghan and further Chinese membership prospects
  4. Template:Note SAARC Admits Afghanistan

External links

Image:SAARC.JPG South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

Members: Afghanistan | Bangladesh | Bhutan | India | Maldives | Nepal | Pakistan | Sri Lanka

Observers: China (PRC) | Japan | United States | South Korea


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