The 15th edition of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) ministerial meeting was held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The two-day meet was inaugurated by Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba and will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara. India was represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The meeting will review the progress and achievements in the identified areas of cooperation and discuss the ways to accelerate the partnership under the BIMSTEC process. The key areas expected to be focused in the meeting are trade, investment, energy, transport, tourism, poverty alleviation and counter-terrorism.
The main agenda of this edition of the meeting is to finalise a free trade agreement among the BIMSTEC member countries. It will also include negotiations on market access for professionals and reducing the duty on trading goods.
The BIMSTEC is a sub-regional grouping comprising of seven countries of South Asia and South East Asia. It was established on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered at Dhaka, Bangladesh.
BIMSTEC mainly comprises of seven countries viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal.
Its objectives are technological and economical cooperation among south Asian and south East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It also covers cooperation in commerce, technology, investment, agriculture, tourism, human resource development, fisheries, transport and communication, textiles, leather etc.