Kathmandu, August 31
The fourth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation concluded here today with the signing of the 18-point Kathmandu Declaration.
The declaration underscores the importance of multi-dimensional connectivity as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity and considers the importance of trade and investment as one of the major contributing factors for fostering economic and social development in the region.
The declaration also recognises special needs of the least developed and land-locked developing countries and underlined the necessity to provide meaningful support to their development process.
In the declaration, the member states reaffirmed their strong commitment to making BIMSTEC a dynamic, effective and result-oriented regional organisation for promoting a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region through meaningful cooperation and deeper integration.
The member states also resolved to leverage BIMSTEC’s unique position as a bridge linking south and south-east Asia.
Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the declaration stresses there can be no justification of any act of terrorism. The member states called upon all countries to devise a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism.
The BIMSTEC leaders reposed their faith unequivocally in the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations to strengthen the multilateral system.
As per the declaration, the leaders decided to task the BIMSTEC Secretariat with preparing a preliminary draft of the charter defining a long-term vision and priorities for cooperation, and establishing a BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee to deal with administrative and financial matters of the secretariat and BIMSTEC centres and entities.
The leaders also directed relevant ministries/agencies of respective governments to explore the possibility of establishing a BIMSTEC Development Fund with voluntary contributions from the member states, which will be utilised for research and planning of BIMSTEC and financing of projects, programmes and other activities of BIMSTEC centres and entities.
The member states agreed to enhance the institutional capacity of the BIMSTEC Secretariat, including through financial and human resources, raise the number of directors to seven, one from each member state.
The sub-regional grouping acknowledged the importance of enhancing the visibility and stature of BIMSTEC in international fora by forging common positions on issues of common interest and seeking group recognition in multilateral organisations.
The heads of states/governments of member countries emphasised the need to restructure and rationalise existing areas of BIMSTEC cooperation for bringing out tangible results.
They also reiterated commitment to timely hold the summit and other meetings of BIMSTEC mechanisms to intensify the process of regional cooperation.
BIMSTEC, which was formed in June 1997, consists of seven member countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
All heads of governments/states of member countries — Myanmar President Win Myint, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Bhutan’s Chief Justice and Chief Adviser to the Interim Government Tshering Wangchuk, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha, and Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli — participated in the event.
As the two-day summit concluded, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli handed over the BIMSTEC chairmanship to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
Addressing the closing session, Oli said collective wisdom, thought and vision on the goal of peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region was eloquently captured in the Kathmandu Declaration.
Stating that BIMSTEC was an outcome of a thoughtful decision to promote regional cooperation and collaboration for the common benefit, Oli said the fourth summit reinforced its rationale. “This summit has been a significant step towards making BIMSTEC a dynamic, effective and result-oriented organisation,” he said. “Translating promises into action will be a key challenge ahead.”
A version of this article appears in print on September 01, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.