BIMSTEC ministerial meeting ends on high note
Kathmandu, August 11
The 15th ministerial meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation concluded here today, endorsing the memorandum of understanding for the establishment of BIMSTEC grid interconnection and also agreed to expedite the negotiations for BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Agreement.
The energy ministers’ meeting of the member countries, proposed for early 2018, will sign the MoU on grid interconnection, which will pave the way for electricity trade among member states, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara.
Once the MoU is signed, the member nations will be able to begin negotiations with one another to install cross-border transmission lines and cross-border interconnection and to initiate the projects. “Based on the framework agreement, the regulatory mechanisms can be formed and tariff rates can be fixed,” said Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi.
The 15th ministerial meeting of the BIMSTEC also pledged to deepen cooperation for shared prosperity in the region. The meeting decided to establish cells focused on areas, like energy, environment and culture, among others, for effective cooperation and to elevate BIMSTEC as a vibrant and visible regional cooperation. The meeting also decided to form an eminent persons’ group to prepare the future roadmap of BIMSTEC.
As the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Agreement has been under discussion since the establishment of BIMSTEC, member states have agreed to expedite the negotiation process to realise the concept of free trade area in this region. There will be negotiations on tariff concession and reducing other trade barriers among the member countries to reach the agreement, according to Bairagi. The ministerial meeting also agreed on early ratification of BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking to enhance the collaboration to fight terrorism, human and drug trafficking.
Nepal, as a chair of the BIMSTEC, has proposed to fix the date of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit as per the convenience of member countries. Although Nepal was supposed to propose the date of BIMSTEC Summit by the end of the year, the country did not propose any date during the meeting due to provincial and general elections that need to be concluded by January 21.
The DPM said, “A date for the BIMSTEC Summit will be fixed in the near future in consultation with the member states, once poll dates are finalised.”