Notwithstanding the measures provided for in this agreement, their provisions do not apply to preferences already granted or granted by one State party to other States Parties outside this agreement, nor to third countries under bilateral, multilateral and multilateral trade agreements and similar agreements. The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is an agreement reached on 6 January 2004 at the 12th ASAC Summit in Islamabad, Pakistan. It has created a free trade area of 1.6 billion people in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to reduce tariffs on all goods traded by 2016. The SAFTA agreement entered into force on 1 January 2006 and is operational after the ratification of the agreement by the seven governments. SAFTA called on developing countries in South Asia (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) to reduce their tariffs to 20% during the first phase of the two-year period, until 2007. During the last five-year period, which ended in 2012, the 20% fee was reduced to zero in a series of annual reductions. The least developed countries of South Asia (Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Maldives) had an additional three years to reduce tariffs to zero. India and Pakistan ratified the treaty in 2009, while Afghanistan, SAARC`s eighth member state, ratified the SAFTA protocol on 4 May 2011.  In February 2004, Nepal became a member of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). The other members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. BIMSTEC aims to create a wider free trade area through deeper and more comprehensive sector coverage of services and an open and competitive investment system. The regional group is a bridge between South and Southeast Asia and is a strengthening of relations between these countries. BIMSTEC has also set up a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members.
It describes the bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to which that country belongs, including with the United States. Includes websites and other resources that allow U.S. companies to get more information about how they can use these agreements. Promoting and promoting mutual trade and ensuring equitable benefits in the region through trade and mutual interest are SAFTA`s key guiding principles. The agreement covers trade in goods and services. SAFTA`s ultimate goal is to create a fully-fledged South Asian economy by maintaining common tariff and non-tariff barriers to imports from all third countries.