Global Advanced Research Journal of Management and Business Studies (GARJMBS) ISSN: 2315-5086 November 2014 Vol. 3(11), pp 498-505

Copyright © 2014 Global Advanced Research Journals   


Original Research Articles

Legal Cross-Border Trade vs. Illegal Cross-Border Trade: Possible Interventions of Regional Cooperation in South Asia for Sustainable Transnational Trade 

Jeeva Niriella* Muthukuda Arachchige, Dona Shiroma, Jeeva Shirajanie Niriella 

*Attorney-at-Law, Senior Lecturer and Course Director of Advanced Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, LLM Programme, Faculty of Law University of Colombo. Visiting Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Jaffna; Member of the Prison Welfare Association Sri Lanka; Member of the National Research Committee, National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka; Editor US China Law Review; Member International Economic and Development Research Foundation; Life Member, South Asian Society of Criminology and Victimology and Life member, International Bar Association. Contact:, +94 031 2226839, +94 071 8043185, No 433/1 A, Dalupotha, Negombo, Sri Lanka. 

Accepted 19 September 2014


Cross-border trade among continents dates back to the pre–industrial era. During that period in the Asian continent, India was renowned for textile while Sri Lanka was well known for spices, gems and pearls. With the European domination over the southern part of Asia the cross-border trade was increased remarkably though it collapsed after the independence due to various reasons including political affairs of the countries. However, in the latter part of the twentieth century, nations of South Asia took a significant step to build up a solid cooperation among the countries in the region to face the common problems in the region and to dedicate to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self-reliance by establishing the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985. The main objective of SAARC was to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia, by expediting the economic growth and social progress, promoting active collaboration in economic growth and social progress. Although the SAARC members have expressed their unwillingness on signing a free trade agreement to overcome the problems that face cross-border trade within the region in 1993, SAARC countries signed an agreement in Dhaka, which is known as South Asia Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) for lower tariffs within the region. In 2004, SAARC countries devised the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) which created a framework for the establishment of a free trade area to eliminate the trade barriers. The SAFTA treaty seeks to allow free cross-border movement of goods within the region, with the provision for a list of sensitive items for member countries to safeguard national interests. However, the countries in the South Asian region are still far from its real collective trade potential. Therefore, it is high time for the region to take further trade facilitation measures in order to achieve their highest economic potential. If the legally imported goods are less available in the local market it leads to an increase in illegal imports. Therefore, increasing the availability of foreign products at cheap prices, undoubtedly, caused to decrease illegal cross-border trading of goods. The main objective of this study is to explore the issues relating to informal trade in the SAARC region and to find the possibilities to convert the informal business into formal business aiming at the economic development of the region. To achieve this goal, the paper focuses on the prevalence and composition of informal trade in the region and its relationship with formal trade. Further, this study spells out the reasons underpinning illegal trade in the South Asian region. Finally, the paper investigates the extent to which Regional Co-operation in South Asia will influence the shift of illegal trade flows to legal channels.  This research is basically based on both library and fields research. The library research is based on reviewing of publications such as books, journal articles and reports written on cross-border trade, South Asian regional and bilateral agreement etc. Further, the information gathered from the internet is also used to complete this article. Field research includes interviews and discussions with Custom Oofficers and collecting data relating to this area. However, it is important to note that obtaining statistics relating to both formal  and informal cross- border trade was one of main difficulties that the author had to face in the completion of this study. 

Keywords: Trade facilitation, illegal cross-border movements of good, regional and bilateral agreements, South A

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