Reshaping a new Regional Integration: The SAARC and SADC Nations

By Srimal Fernando and Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri

21 September 2020

Southern African and South Asian nations have resorted to the fact that one of the most significant methods for accomplishing a more prominent economic autonomy is through regional integration of economies. Cultivating economic discretion between the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) is one of the key foreign policy objectives that both regional alliances can cooperate on within the following decade.

South Africa and India would thus be able to exercise a significant and persuasive foreign policy focus in connecting these two regions.  From the governments' side, the essential enquiries rotate around the viability of its current strategies.

Whatever the nature and extent of Southern African and South Asian economic challenges and however the level of progress might be normal in adapting to them, certain factors stand out. The way that South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has enunciated a common economic policy objective, leads towards a more compelling regional and mainland communication.

The parallels between SAARC and SADC

South Asia is recorded to be one of the biggest consumer markets with a populous of over 1.6 billion living in eight countries of the  SAARC alliance. South Africa is presently a model for other African countries, likewise,  India has helped South Asian countries to turn their consideration inward to the African and Asian continent. South Africa's geographic location makes it a novel, overlooking the course around the cape to the Far East and thus neighbouring to one of the world's busiest trade routes, particularly for oil exchange. This is likewise the situation with its nearly un-paralleled mineral wealth and advanced industrial,  commercial and financial economy which has colossal American and European vested stakes. Albeit South Africa is generally viewed as an industrialised state, its modern sector stays restricted. South Africa's position has additionally reinforced with Southern African Development Community (SADC). Similarly, the Intra-regional trade among the SAARC nations, namely India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives is far beneath its potential.

The SAARC has adopted a more neutral strategy in its regional initiatives and national interests.  In this manner, the responsibility of SAARC regional grouping is to encourage a favourable world of politics among member nations to extend trade with key economic players in the market. Since the member nations dispatched its Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) in 2006 the region has seen numerous changes in trade and economic cooperation at different levels. The guide for execution of SAFTA was both politically and economically not well embraced to completely work within member nations and researchers were starting to scrutinize some crucial parts of the regional trade. The fact that the SAARC has articulated common economic policy objectives is a step towards a more effective regional and continental integration. As these two regions look to the future of these member countries, everything certainly relies upon how the Southern African and the South Asian countries learn from past mistakes. This is an overwhelming undertaking however the SADC and SAARC countries must discover palatable arrangements.

The potentials of regional Integration: SAARC AND SADC

They should build up a mutually beneficial relationship between the two sovereign continents. This will help in paving the path of a bright new future for Southern African and South Asian countries. The critical question here is the way to make sure about such a  reconciliation. SAARC and SADC countries impact the future of these nations. India and South Africa may architect the future design of SAARC and SADC in the wake of a Free Trade Agreement (FTAs). India or South Africa is hence in the way an improbable saviour of regional Free trade. The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is a vital entry point for Southern African countries into economically powerful areas of the world that have been integrating amongst them. There is this further question that arises of India's impact in SAARC itself? SAARC and the SADC countries impact the way forward.

It is well noted from these discussions that there is an agreement among the primary players here on the need to nail down trade and cooperation. Being among the nearest major economies, it is the ideal opportunity for South Asian and Southern African policymakers to think futuristic and make trade transactions smoother and more business-friendly for both these regions.


Dr. Srimal Fernando is a recipient of the prestigious O.P Jindal Doctoral Fellowship and the SAU Scholarship under the SAARC umbrella. He is an Advisor/Global Editor of The Diplomatic Society for South Africa in partnership with Diplomatic World Institute (Brussels). He is also the winner of the 2018/2019 ‘Best Journalist of the Year’ award in South Africa, and has been the recipient of Global Communication Association (GCA) Media Award for 2016.   In 2019 Dr Fernando was a Indian Council of World Affairs ( ICWA) accolade recipient.)

Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA hons.) in Journalism and Mass Communication at the Jindal School of Journalism & Communication (JSJC). She mainly focuses on Indo-China global media relations. She was also a recipient of the ICASQCC Gold Medal in Mauritius. Roy is member of the SGRC at Jindal Global University and a social activist in Chennai.