PM to attend virtual summit of BIMSTEC
- Prime Minister will attend a virtual summit of the seven-nation BIMSTEC grouping on March 30.
- It is expected to focus on expanding economic engagement among its member countries.
- It is being hosted by Sri Lanka in its capacity as the chair of the BIMSTEC.
- Its full form is Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
- It is a regional multilateral organisation.
- It came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- Its members are are five Southasian nations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and two southeast Asian nations: Myanmar and Thailand.
Areas of cooperation
- Members nations cooperate in areas such as Trade and Investment, Technology, Energy, Transportation and Communication, Tourism, Fisheries, Agriculture, Cultural Cooperation, Environment and Disaster Management, Public Health, People-to-People Contact, Poverty Alleviation, Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime and Climate Change.
- Technological and economical cooperation among South Asian and South East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
- Encouraging the spirit of equality and partnership.
- Promoting active collaboration and mutual assistance in the areas of common interests of the member countries
- Accelerating support for each other in the fields of education, science, and technology, etc.
Significance of BIMSTEC for India
- With the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming dysfunctional due to disputes between India and Pakistan, it gives a fresh platform for India to engage with its neighbours.
- BIMSTEC enables India to pursue three core policies: Neighbourhood First – giving priority to the country's immediate neighbours; Act East – connecting India to Southeast Asia; and Economic Development of India's Northeastern States – by connecting them to the Bay of Bengal region via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- Allows India to offset China's growing influence in the Bay of Bengal region as a result of the One Belt and One Road Initiative's growth.
- BIMSTEC Summit: highest policy-making body in the BIMSTEC process, and it is composed of the leaders of state and government of member countries.
- Ministerial Meeting: BIMSTEC's second highest policy-making body, attended by Member States' External/Foreign Ministers.
- Senior Officials’ Meeting : represented by Senior Officials of Foreign Ministries of the Member States.
- BIMSTEC Working Group : attended by Ambassadors of BIMSTEC Member Countries to Bangladesh or their representatives on a monthly basis at the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka.
- Business Forum & Economic Forum : two important forums to ensure active participation of the private sector.
- Neglect by member states as they are more focussed on ASEAN and SAARC
- Bilateral Issues between Member Nations like the one between Myanmar and Bangladesh on Rohingya crisis
- No Free Trade Agreement among member countries
- As the BIMSTEC region is known for its diversity, member nations must capitalise on regional synergies and collaborate to make the most use of the available resources.
- This would facilitate the creation of a more powerful and active BIMSTEC.