Promotion of intra-regional trade potentials in the SAARC region

Project description

Title: Promotion of intra-regional trade in the SAARC region (SAARC Trade Promotion Network, SAARC-TPN) 
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) 
Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Lead executing agency:
 South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretariat based in Nepal
Overall term: 
July 2014 to June 2017


The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded in 1985 with the aim of promoting socio-economic development within the member states, and through their mutual cooperation. The SAARC region is composed of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Though it is home to around a quarter of the world’s population, the region accounts for just under seven per cent of the world’s GDP.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute significantly towards the economic capacity of the region and by providing employment and income opportunities are a decisive factor for poverty reduction. Currently, however, the creation of an acceptable framework for intra-regional trade is hampered, as central trade-related government and private sector organisations lack sufficient competences and capacities.

The SAARC Trade Promotion Network (SAARC-TPN) consists of 27 public and private institutions from the eight countries of the SAARC region. Public sector members of the TPN are primarily the national trade ministries or the trade departments of economic ministries, along with trade and export promotion agencies. Members of the network drawn from the private sector include regional and national business membership organisations. These chambers of commerce and business associations are the leading trade organisations in their countries.


The non-tariff measures and impediments for the development of selected cross-border value chains in the SAARC-area have been reduced.


Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the project is supporting the SAARC Trade Promotion Network (SAARC-TPN) and its four working groups (Regional Trade Facilitation; Quality Infrastructure; Small and Medium Enterprise and Human Capacity Development) in improving strategic management and organisational development. The project promotes communication and information-sharing between network members. It builds their competences for identifying priority measures to overcome trade restrictions, and it facilitates complex negotiations to develop solutions and to properly represent the interests of the network.

The project is strengthening the individual and the institutional competencies of SAARC-TPN members, and will encourage the network to contribute, through the SAARC executive committees, to the form and substance of regional agreements involving trade. Furthermore, the project will support the introduction and implementation of new trade facilitation and trade promotion initiatives. Furthermore, it will promote the development of SAARC-TPN know-how and resources for monitoring the progress and outcomes of cross-border trade promotion measures in South Asia.

Additional information