SAARC stands for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It is a an organization of 8 counties in South Asia, similar to EU in Europe and ASEAN in South East Asia, with secretariat in Kathmandu, Nepal. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,Maldives, Nepal,Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan are the members. The first seven are the founding members. Afganistan became a member in 2007.
The aim of this economic and geopolitical organization is promotion of reliance among the member countries for socio- cultural development of the region. In terms of GDP(PPP), the combined countries occupies 3rd position after United states and China. SARCC nations are occupying only around 3% of total world area, but account for 21% of total world population.
The major areas of co-operation envisaged are
• Agriculture and Rural Development
• Health and Population Activities
• Telecommunications, Science, Technology and Meteorology
• Human Resource Development
In a trade block with similar character, limited barriers of trade exists among the members with better scope for economic development. Despite the tremendous potential, SAARC has not succeeded in living up to the expectations, even after being in existence for 34 years. The political disputes between the two major members, India and Pakistan, have always been a blockade. Internal political uncertainties, prevailing in some other member countries aggravated the situation. Lack of proper connectivity, terrorist threats and poor infrastructure in the region too has played negative roles. There is tremendous scope for improvement of trade among the member countries, if the member countries collectively address these issues and decide to co-operate with each other.
So far 18 summits of the organization have taken place. The first meeting of the organization was held in Dhaka on 8 December 1985 and the 18th in Kathmandu on 26th and 27th November, 2014.