New Delhi: Ahead of the 4th BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Kathmandu (Nepal) on August 30-31, 2018, Heads of Missions of BIMSTEC member countries underlined the need for conclusion of negotiations for a BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement and trade facilitation measures.
Speaking at a meeting on ‘Fourth BIMSTEC Summit: Expectations, Challenges and Opportunities’, organised by FICCI, the Heads of Missions expressed disappointment that 13 years after the framework agreement was finalised, FTA was still being negotiated. They felt that the time was ripe for BIMSTEC leaders to give unequivocal directives to facilitate conclusion of FTA.
The panellists shared their vision for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) as a catalyst for regional economic development over the next twenty years. The member nations are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal.
The panellists were Chitranganee Wagiswara, High Commissioner, Sri Lankan High Commission; Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Ambassador, Embassy of Thailand; Syed Muazzem Ali, High Commissioner, Bangladesh High Commission; Moe Kyaw Aung, Ambassador, Embassy of Myanmar; and Jambay Yeshi, Economic Counsellor, Embassy of Bhutan. The meeting also heard the views of Piyush Srivastava, Joint Secretary BIMSTEC & SAARC, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, whose message was read out in absentia.
The unanimous view of the envoys was that out of the 14 identified priority sectors of cooperation, there was a need to focus on select areas such as connectivity, energy, trade, investment, climate change and counter-terrorism measures. This, they said, would give visibility to the regional grouping and make it a meaningful platform for prosperity in the region.
The heads of missions called for people-oriented decisions based on regional connectivity and economic integration.
Piyush Srivastava, Joint Secretary BIMSTEC & SAARC, Ministry of External Affairs, GoI expressed the hope that the Nepal Summit would give a further impetus to people’s expectation of bettering their lives in the region. He laid stress on cooperation in the areas of security, disaster management, tourism, trade and public health.