BIMSTEC Current Affairs - 2020
The 4th BIMSTEC Summit concluded in Kathmandu with signing and adoption of Kathmandu Declaration by all the seven members (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand). After conclusion of summit, current chair of BIMSTEC, Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli also handed over Chairmanship of next (fifth) BIMSTEC Summit to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. During this summit, foreign ministers of BIMSTEC member countries had signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection.
18-point Kathmandu Declaration aims to enhance effectiveness of BIMSTEC Secretariat by engaging it in various technical and economic activities in the region. It acknowledges importance of trade and investment as one of major contributing factors for fostering economic and social development in the region. It also deplored terrorist attacks in all parts of the world, including in BIMSTEC countries, and strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms.
It also reiterated strong commitment of BIMSTEC countries to combat terrorism and called upon all countries to devise comprehensive approach in this regard. Member countries also agreed to expedite conclusion of BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and called upon member states for its early ratification. It also expressed satisfaction that many member states have ratified BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
BIMSTEC countries also agreed to establish seamless multi-modal transportation linkages and smooth, synchronised and simplified transit facilities through the development, expansion and modernisation of highways, railways, waterways, sea routes and airways in the region. They also decided to speed up efforts to conclude BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and BIMSTEC Motor Vehicle Agreement as early as possible taking into account special circumstances and needs of the member states.
BIMSTEC countries also decided for early conclusion of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations, and directed the BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting and its subsidiary bodies, including Trade Negotiating Committee, to expedite finalisation of all related agreements of FTA as early as possible.
BIMSTEC countries also called for exploring possibility of establishing BIMSTEC Development Fund with voluntary contributions from member states. The fund will be utilised for research and planning of BIMSTEC and financing of projects, and other activities of regional organisation.
Tags: BIMSTEC • BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection • International • Kathmandu Declaration • Nepal
The fourth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit was held in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. The theme of the summit was ‘Towards a Peaceful Prosperous, and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region’. India was represented by Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi. This was his fourth visit to Nepal after becoming Prime Minister in 2014
Enhancing collaboration in areas of regional connectivity, coastal shipping, space, energy, transport and tourism were focus of the summit. Besides, countering terrorism, enhancing regional connectivity and boosting trade were dominant agenda of 4th BIMSTEC summit.
Other leaders who attended this summit are Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Myanmar President U Win Myint, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Bhutan’s Chief Justice and Chief Advisor to interim government Dasho Tshering Wangchuk.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
BIMSTEC is regional grouping of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia lying in littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting contiguous regional unity. It was established on 6 June 1997 through Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The first BIMSTEC summit was held in Thailand in 1997, second in India in 2008 and the third in 2014 in Myanmar.
Member countries: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka from South Asia and Myanmar, Thailand from South East Asia. They are collectively home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of global population and has a combined gross domestic product of $2.8 trillion.
BIMESTC’s prime objectives: Promote technological and economic cooperation among south Asian and south East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. BIMSTEC is sector-driven cooperative organization, starting with six sector including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries. In 2008, it was expanded to embrace eight more sectors including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change.
India and BIMSTEC
India has been pushing for making BIMSTEC vibrant forum for regional collaboration as cooperation under South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) framework is not moving forward. India has been maintaining that it was difficult to proceed with SAARC initiative under current circumstances citing continuing support to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. Pakistan was also blocking connectivity initiatives such as SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA). BIMSTEC excludes Pakistan. India is now pushing for similar pact motor vehicle agreement in BIMSTEC with an aim to enhance regional trade.