SAFTA was conceived primarily as a first step towards the transition to a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), which would later lead to a customs union, a common market and an economic union. In 1995, the sixteenth session of the Council of Ministers (New Delhi, 18-19 December 1995) agreed on the need for safta and, to this end, an intergovernmental group of experts (IGEG) was established in 1996 to identify the steps necessary for progress towards a free trade area. At the tenth SAARC Summit (Colombo, 29-31 July 1998), it was decided to establish a Committee of Experts (COE) to negotiate a comprehensive treaty framework for the establishment of a free trade area in the region, taking into account the asymmetries in the development of the region and setting realistic and achievable objectives. Notwithstanding the measures provided for in this Agreement, its provisions shall not apply to preferences which a State Party has already granted or will grant to other States Parties outside the framework of this Agreement, as well as to third countries under bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral trade agreements and similar agreements. 2. A State Party intending to withdraw or modify a concession shall consult and/or negotiate with the Contracting States with which the concession was originally negotiated and with all other States Parties having a principal or essential interest in the supply as defined by the Committee, with a view to reaching agreement on any necessary and appropriate compensation. The Maldives has signed bilateral agreements with the following countries: we are signatories to regional agreements, namely the South Asian Regional Cooperation Association (SAARC) and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). SAARC members include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Originating products – products benefiting from preferential trade arrangements under the GTMP imported from another State Party into the territory of a Contracting State and shipped directly within the meaning of Rule 5 may benefit from preferential concessions if they meet the origin requirement under one of the following conditions: in its initial phase, SAARC focused only on non-controversial subjects; (z.B population, health, communication, post, agricultural and rural development, etc. Subsequently, SAARC began to focus on other important topics such as finance, economy, trade, energy, climate change, transport, etc. For almost thirty and a half years, saarc has adopted numerous legal instruments covering both agreements and conventions governing mutual cooperation and cooperation in certain areas of common interest.
Some of its agreements should be taken into consideration: in view of the mandate given at the sixth ASARC Summit in Colombo to define an institutional framework and seek agreement on the possibility of supporting specific trade liberalisation measures between SAAC member States, and to consider Sri Lanka`s proposal to establish the ASARC Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) by 1997; 6 Products marketed under sapTA sectoral agreements may be subject to specific criteria. .