BIMSTEC, a regional bloc comprising seven member states, is getting a 'big boost' with both Bangladesh and India expecting that it will soon start yielding results to fulfil the aspirations of the people of this region, reports UNB.
Amid SAARC's apparent failure, BIMSTEC will become 'more efficient and effective' with an outcome-oriented and people-centric approach to regional cooperation, officials in Dhaka and New Delhi told the news agency.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member states are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand - who have a combined GDP of over US$ 2.85 trillion.
Referring to recent BIMSTEC ministerial meeting held in Kathmandu, they said an 'enhanced connectivity' is extremely important to achieve the common goals of growth and employment prosperity, which Bangladesh and India have with other BIMSTEC member states.
Being an important member of BIMSTEC, India wants to have an enabling 'soft infrastructure' such as the framework agreement on transit, transhipment and movement of vehicular traffic and agreement on coastal shipping at the earliest to achieve "smoother cross-border flows of trade and people," said an official.
A Foreign Ministry senior official said Bangladesh has urged the member states to conclude BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations for its early implementation.
"We've requested the member states to give a big push together to bring dynamism in the areas of cooperation of BIMSTEC," the official told the news agency referring to Bangladesh's call during the BIMSTEC ministerial meeting.
Officials in Dhaka and New Delhi said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection is ready for signing.
The member states agreed to complete the internal procedures to sign the MoU at the earliest, officials said.
The member states also agreed to expedite the negotiations on the agreements on services and investment to boost economic cooperation in the region.
According to the officials, Bangladesh will host the first meeting of the working group to negotiate the trade facilitation agreement at a convenient time.
Bangladesh will also host the sixth Trade and Economic Ministers' Meeting and the eighth meeting of BIMSTEC Business Forum this year, said another official.
At the same time, Bangladesh will convene a BIMSTEC Experts' workshop on climate change this year.
Recognising the high potentials of energy sources in the region, particularly renewable and clean energy sources, BIMSTEC members will now gear up their efforts to develop a comprehensive plan for 'energy cooperation' within the region, said a diplomat.
Nepal is scheduled to host the third BIMSTEC Energy Ministers' meeting early next year.
The BIMSTEC countries are also emphasising on the early functioning of BIMSTEC Energy Centre to strengthen energy cooperation in the region in a comprehensive manner.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh will host the fourth meeting of BIMSTEC Network of National Centres of Coordination in Traditional Medicine while India will host the first meeting of the BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine (BTFTM) at a convenient time.
Attaching importance to the transport sector, the BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistics study has already been conducted.
Sri Lanka will host the fourth meeting of BIMSTEC expert group on the establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility in Colombo in November this year.
Meanwhile, India has already hosted the first annual meeting of the National Security Chiefs in New Delhi on March 21 this year.
The member states will now implement the recommendations of the meeting to counter terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation; and deepen cooperation to deal with traditional and non-traditional security threats in a comprehensive manner, the officials said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh will host an international conference on Blue Economy in October this year, officials in Dhaka said.
Nepal, they said, is expected to host an expert-level meeting on 'mountain economy' this year.
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