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SAARC Summit Fails to Finalize Trade Agreement


South Asian leaders have ended their two-day summit in Bangladesh without finalizing details of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement, or SAFTA, supposed to go into effect on January 1st.

But the members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (or SAARC) agreed on a number of new measures related to customs, tax and investment, and decided to liberalize visa requirements.

They also agreed to form a disaster management center, to be based in India, designed to improve the region's response to humanitarian crises, and to improve cooperation in responding to terrorism.

SAARC includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But it will soon have an eighth member -- Afghanistan -- after the leaders agreed to allow the country into the grouping.
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