Prospects for Environmental Trade under the Regional Process in South Asia: Evidence from SAPTA and Proposals for SAFTA

Abstract: The debate about identification of environmentally sensitive goods (ESGs) is highly complex as discussed in the economic literature. In the context of SAFTA, ESGs assumes significance as the region is significantly dependent on these products for trade. In this paper an attempt has been made to formulate a new approach to identify ESGs, and the same definition is used to analyses the nature of trade flows in the South Asian region. The implications of three Rounds of SAPTA trade liberalization in ESGs trade is examined at a disaggregated level separately. The empirical exercise indicates that South Asia has a large market for these products, and nearly one quarter of the regional trade is falling under the medium and high technology product groups. The study has prepared a road map for setoral trade liberalization, which would promote intra-regional trade in ESG products under SAFTA. An effort has been made to suggest counter balancing measures to minimize negative environmental implications of possible trade expansion once SAFTA is implemented.