Quick finalisation of pact on BIMSTEC Free Trade Area sought

Kathmandu, August 10

The meeting of senior officials of the member states of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) today stressed on the need for member states to focus on core areas of cooperation, including trade, investment, connectivity, energy and tourism.

Held ahead of the 15th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting, which is scheduled for tomorrow, the BIMSTEC senior officials meeting urged the BIMSTEC member states (Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand) to prioritise early operationalisation of BIMSTEC Centres established in respective member states and promote the aforementioned areas of cooperation.

Briefing the outputs of the meeting of the senior officials, Shankar Das Bairagi, secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), said that the participants sought early finalisation of the Agreement on BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) between the member states in a bid to boost regional trade, energy and technology.

Meanwhile, Nepal also proposed to promote ‘Mountain Economy’ among member states during the meeting and vowed to circulate a draft of the concept paper on it. “We are planning to host a meeting of experts soon to develop a concept paper on promotion of ‘Mountain Economy’, especially in mountainous member states, including Nepal, Bhutan and India,” said Bairagi.

Similarly, Nepal also offered to host an expert-level meeting on poverty alleviation among member states on November 1 and also to host the fifth meeting of BIMSTEC Sub-Group on Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals. Nepal also offered to host the meeting of the BIMSTEC Sub-Group on Legal and Law Enforcement Issues and meeting of the BIMSTEC Sub-Group on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism in the first quarter of 2018.

The meeting also recommended nomination of Shahidul Islam of Bangladesh as the next secretary general of BIMSTEC.

The outcome and recommendations of the meeting of BIMSTEC senior officials will be endorsed by the BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting on Friday.

Meanwhile, BIMSTEC foreign ministers, including External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj, arrived here today to participate in the BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting.