South Asian Economic Union – a growing reality that can change the world
Preetam Khanna
Feb. 12, 2005

A thing that will change the economic landscape of the world for ever. That is the dream many forefathers of South Asian independence dreamed in early twentieth century.

Observing that time for South Asian Union in terms of economic integration had come, India today said the barriers among SAARC countries would have to fall to allow the region's development and voiced confidence about SAFTA coming into force from January next.

External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, said South Asia could draw inspiration from regional bodies like the European Union and ASEAN for economic integration and advocated a time-bound project-oriented approach by SAARC nations towards achieving developmental goals.

"All of us in South Asia are aware that the idea of a South Asian Union in the realm of economic integration is one whose time has come. We are in danger of missing the bus if we do not recognise this reality," he said after releasing a book "South Asian Union" authored by senior journalist Ranjit Kumar.

For development of the region, he said, barriers of geography, trade and mindset would have to fall. "Today, in the age of IT revolution, many barriers will break down," he said.

"The EU shows how countries which have been at war with each other over the last eight to ten centuries can bury their hatchets in the common pursuit of peace and prosperity," the External Affairs Minister said. Noting that two-thirds of the world trade today takes place through regional economic groups, he said "South Asia can certainly draw inspiration from EU as it can from other successful regional groupings like ASEAN, North Atlantic Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and South Africa Development Community."


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