BIMSTEC to push for free trade

Trade negotiation committee meet from Nov 18

FE Report | Published: November 08, 2018 12:17:26 | Updated: November 14, 2018 12:39:54

Free trade issue and cooperation on customs matters will figure prominently in a two-day meeting of the BIMSTEC trade negotiating committee beginning in Dhaka on November 18, officials said.

Other issues related to the framework agreement among the member-countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will also come up for discussion at the meeting.

"In the BIMSTEC meeting to be held in Dhaka on November 18-19, many issues will be discussed for the mutual benefits of its members," additional secretary (FTA) of the ministry of commerce Md Shafiqul Islam told the FE.

Earlier, members of the regional bloc agreed to devise a plan for the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement in order to accelerate the growth of trade and investment among themselves.

They have already identified 14 priority sectors for cooperation.

The issues of settlement of disputes and trade and services will also be discussed in the forthcoming meeting, said the commerce ministry official.

The BIMSTEC of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation came into being on June 6 in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.

The aim of the regional bloc is to harness shared and accelerated growth through mutual cooperation in different areas of common interests and using regional resources and geographical advantages.

The member-states are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.

The permanent secretariat of BIMSTEC is located in Dhaka.

The bloc has a combined population of around 1.5 billion and a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018).

Trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people-to-people contact and climate change are the areas of cooperation among the BIMSTEC members.

The member-countries have been able to sustain an average 6.5 per cent economic growth trajectory despite global financial meltdown.

The first meeting of the trade negotiating committee was held in Bangkok on September 7-8 in 2004.

The committee's negotiation area covers trade in goods and services, investment, economic cooperation, trade facilitations and technical assistance for the least developed countries in the bloc.

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