India Proposes A SAARC Freight Train Network
India has proposed to run an intra-region freight train network from Pakistan through India via Nepal to Bangladesh. The proposed fright train network would link the famous port of Chittagong Port in Bangladesh all the way to the Pakistani City of Lahore.
Traditionally trade and diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan has been rocky but in recent times, both countries have been seen to increase corporation in trade and anti- terror talks. If a fright train network is built , it could be a huge stepping stone for the SAARC regional trade integration. In January 2004 SAFTA the SAARC trade agreement was signed by the member countries to work towards a trading block much like the tariff free agreements among the EU.
A rough estimate of intra-regional trade for the SAARC countries exceed $ 700 billion and SAFTA together with a smoother freight network would dramatically further increase regional trade while reduce costs and barriers to trade and invest within the region. India has also is rumored to have had talks about drawing up plans to make a block on Crude Oil purchases, which some economists believe would give the SAARC member states more bargaining power in Oil purchase negotiations.
A more integrated SAARC would be beneficial to all the members states India,Pakistan,Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan,Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan promoting faster economic growth and democratic values.