July 14, 2012 (LBO) – A single document that harmonises different regulations of South Asian countries for clearing cargo would help boost regional trade, Sri Lanka’s external affairs minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris said. Trade among countries of the South Asian region was far below its potential and simplified procedures were needed to increase volumes, he told a forum on trade facilitation in Colombo Friday.
“Regretfully, volumes of trade within the south Asian region are far, far below what it should be,” Peiris said.
Trade volume within the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) region was only five percent of their total trade compared with 55 percent within the European Union and 22 percent in the South East Asian (Asean) regional economic bloc.
Critics say economic nationalism had robbed the freedoms of the citizens to trade with one another, especially after gaining self determination from British rule allowing producers to prey on consumer with the backing of the state.
Post independent South Asian rulers have imposed trade restrictions on citizens to give large profits to powerful rent seeking nationalist businesses that were perhaps not even seen under the Dutch East India