Fourth BIMSTEC summit commences in capital today

Kathmandu, August 29

The fourth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation begins tomorrow under the theme ‘Towards Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region’.

The summit will mainly focus on connectivity, poverty alleviation, trade, investment, tourism, climate change and security challenges. Other areas of discussion include strengthening and making effective the BIMSTEC secretariat, the establishment of BIMSTEC development fund, Buddhist circuit, setting up of regional centres, adoption of BIMSTEC charter and rationalisation of priority areas.

The summit will also witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnections, paving the way for trade in energy among member states.

The summit will witness participation of heads of state/government of all seven member states — Myanmar President Win Myint, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Bhutan’s Chief Justice and Chief Adviser of the Interim Government Tshering Wangchuk, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The 16th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting held here today in the run-up to the summit reviewed the whole gamut of cooperation under the BIMSTEC and endorsed the report of the 19th session of the BIMSTEC senior officials’ meeting held yesterday.

The senior officials’ meeting had endorsed establishment of the BIMSTEC development fund, rationalisation of areas of cooperation and identification of core priority areas, strengthening the secretariat to make it capable of supporting member states in the implementation of decisions, initiating the process of evolving the charter of the BIMSTEC and initiating the process of working out Rules of Procedures of BIMSTEC mechanisms.

The senior officials had also recommended signing of the MoU for the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnections, for which the foreign ministers expressed their readiness in today’s meeting.

Chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, the ministerial meeting began with country statements by foreign ministers and heads of delegation.

Delivering his opening remarks, Gyawali said for regional growth and prosperity, the member states needed to deepen areas of cooperation and rationalise 14 priority areas and concentrate on core economic areas, such as connectivity, trade, tourism, energy and agriculture.

“Connectivity is the enabler, energy is locomotive, technology is the accelerator, investment and trade are drivers of regional growth and prosperity for bringing socio-economic transformation. These factors should top the BIMSTEC agenda,” Gyawali said.

The ministers endorsed the text of draft Summit Declaration and forwarded it to leaders of BIMSTEC member states for approval. “While appreciating the progress achieved in the past, ministers resolved to take more vigorous steps for more focused implementation of the activities of the organisation,” said Paudyal at a media briefing after the conclusion of the ministerial meet.

The meeting was attended by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Bhutan Foreign Secretary Sonam Tshong, Minister of State for External Affairs of India VK Singh,  Union Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar U Kyaw Tin, Nepal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gyawali, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Vasantha Senanayake and Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudvinai.

Gyawali handed over the chairmanship of the BIMSTEC ministerial meeting to the state minister for foreign affairs of Sri Lanka. The 17th ministerial meeting will be held in Sri Lanka and its date will be finalised through diplomatic channels.