Challenges to Regional Cooperation in South Asia: An Overview
Keywords:South Asia, Regional Cooperation, SAARC, SAFTA
The devastating effects of the Second World War significantly affected states, their resources and the overall balance of peace. As a result, states began to search for a new model that would not only promote and expand trade but would also contribute to world peace. Since the 1980s there has been an increase in regional cooperative projects all over the world. The concept of regional cooperation revolves around the idea that states in a shared geographical space cooperate with each other in order to achieve goals that go beyond the capacity of individual national attainment. Regional cooperation eventually found its place in South Asia. As a result, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in 1985 and the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement came into force in 2006. Despite these mechanisms, regional cooperation remained relatively low. Both economic and non-economic factors are responsible for this situation. Factors that range from tariff and non-tariff barriers to physical connectivity to asymmetric power relations and security concerns have served as obstacles to achieve regional cooperation in South Asia. In order to overcome these barriers, South Asian states must maintain flexibility in dealing with highly political issues in order to make way for regional growth and economic development.
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