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Cabinet approves freer trade with SAARC LDCs

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Friday gave approval for reducing India’s existing Sensitive List of 744 items for least developed countries (LDCs) under South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) to 480 by deleting 264 items. This is in pursuance with India’s announcement during the 14th SAARC summit regarding its readiness to accept asymmetrical responsibilities, including opening its markets to South Asian neighbours insisting on reciprocity.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives are regarded as LDCs in the SAARC.

The announcement about pruning the negative list for LDCs from January 1, 2008, which was one year ahead of the target, was made by India at the third meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council held here on March 3 this year.

India has also decided to give national treatment to SAARC countries for participation in its national trade fairs.

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