Focus on developing all kinds of connectivity to unleash potential of economic development • Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
Kathmandu, August 10
Two decades after the establishment of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), member states of the region have shown willingness to elevate the visibility of the BIMSTEC by concluding crucial agreements.
The 15th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting of the member states (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) scheduled for tomorrow is expected to give final shape to a number of agreements planned under the BIMSTEC — namely, Free Trade Agreements, Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection, and MoU on BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility — paving the way for their submission during the fourth summit of the BIMSTEC.
The ministerial meeting, which was inaugurated today, will discuss dimensions of regional cooperation.
Addressing the inaugural session of the 15th ministerial meeting today, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba expressed hope that the ministerial meeting will endorse the regional cooperation framework on trade, investment and connectivity.
The prime minister also urged delegates to ensure that mechanism related to developing energy, exchanging technology and mitigating greenhouse gases would also become fully functional in the near future so that regional prosperity can be enhanced.
Prime Minister Deuba said the BIMSTEC member countries had to focus on developing all kinds of connectivity — physical to digital — to unleash the potential of economic development. Stating that member countries of BIMSTEC are at different stages of social and economic development, he said the BIMSTEC had to give due attention to the needs of its members in order to be effective as a regional grouping for environmentally sustainable growth.
Deuba expressed commitment to combat terrorism, money laundering, militant extremism, and human, arms and drug trafficking, besides seeking extensive cooperation for the same from other members.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara also laid emphasis on the early conclusion of agreements on trade in goods and services, investment, mutual assistance in customs matters, dispute settlement and trade facilitation.
Citing slow progress on the front of cooperation envisioned under BIMSTEC, Mahara called on member nations for ‘meaningful cooperation’. He highlighted the need of early finalisation of BIMSTEC Master Plan for Connectivity, effective and early operationalisation of the BIMSTEC Energy Centre and conclusion of MoU on BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection, which is scheduled to be discussed during the ministerial meeting.
Secretary General of the BIMSTEC Sumith Nakandala said finalisation of some of the critical agreements would foster opportunities to develop BIMSTEC as a vibrant region.
Nepal is chairing the BIMSTEC and is planning to host the BIMSTEC summit within this year.
A version of this article appears in print on August 11, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.