South Asia Association for Regional Cooperatio n. Background.
-the first concrete proposal for establishing a framework for regional cooperation in South Asia. Made by the late president of Bangladesh, Ziaur Rahman.
- It created a free trade area of 1.6 billion people in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (as of 2011, the combined population is 1.8 billion people). The seven foreign ministers of the region signed a framework agreement on SAFTA to reduce customs duties of all traded goods to zero by the year 2016.
-At the Thirteenth SAARC Summit held in November 2005 in Dhaka, India proposed to create a Centre of Excellence, in the form of a South Asian University, which can provide world class facilities and professional faculty to students and researchers drawn from every country of the region.
-Recognizing the imperative to address poverty related issues and to suggest strategies and measures to alleviate poverty in the region, the SAARC Leaders at their Sixth Summit (Colombo, 1991) established an Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA).