Regional integration in Europe was consolidated by the Treaty on the European Union (The Maastricht Treaty), which came into force in November 1993 and founded the European Union. The European Free Trade Association is a free trade bloc of four countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway) that operates in parallel and is linked to the European Union. The North American Free Trade Agreement was concluded in January 1994, when Mexico joined an existing bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and Canada. In 1993, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) focused on reducing tariffs in the Pacific. The AFTA was launched in 2000. It is now recognized that persistent flood problems, which affect millions of years of year in year in Indian countries such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, cannot be solved without closer cooperation with Nepal. Similarly, the full economic potential of the states of northeastern India cannot be realized without the full participation of Bangladesh. But it is indeed a matter of considerable frustration and disappointment for people like me who consider themselves South Asians (those who think that the globalization of India should accept South Asia and not bypass South Asia and that India should be prepared to take unilateral action in this matter), that even like Bhutan and Sri Lanka, some of our neighbors remain hesitant in their responses to India`s open doors and feel a conspiracy that simply does not exist. India`s relative economic strength and demographics could cause understandable unease among its neighbours. The establishment of new institutional mechanisms within ASARC to enable Indian border states to interact and cooperate with their South Asian neighbours could be a way forward. Ministry of Commerce, Indian government website, trade agreements: The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), with a population of 1.5 billion, is the largest regional grouping in the world. Its economic arm, the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, an attempt to liberalize trade and investment throughout the region, was signed in January 2004 and has eight members: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
At present, intra-regional trade accounts for only 5% of total international trade regions. www.doc.gov.lk/regionaltrade.php?mode=inop&link=isfta The emergence of trading blocs tends to establish some parity between high-income industrialized countries and much lower-income developing countries, as they tend to serve as equal partners in such a system.