Fifth Summit of the BIMSTEC was held in Colombo which advanced the regional cooperation and integration.
GS-II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Dimensions of the Article
- Colombo Package
- Trade Pillars and Support needed
- Leaders and Commitments
- What more is needed?
- Way Forward
- BIMSTEC needs to strengthen itself by redefining its purposes and rejuvenating its organs and institutions.
- Much needed process was launched at Leaders’ Retreat convened by India in 2016 and then in Kathmandu in 2018.
- Decision to reduce the objectives to manageable seven, where each country has been allotted a sector.
- Summit participants adopted a Master Plan for Transport Connectivity applicable for 2018-2028.
- Package also includes three agreements relating to mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, cooperation between diplomatic academies, and establishment of technology transfer facility.
Trade Pillars and Support needed
- Pillar of Trade, economic and investment cooperation needs greater strengthening at a rapid pace.
- Though a comprehensive FTA was signed in 2004 but the goals haven’t been achieved yet.
- Colombo Declaration instills little confidence for progress.
- There is an urgent need expansion of connectivity projects but legal instruments for coastal shipping, road transport and intra-regional energy grid connection is still lacking.
- Speedy success of deepening security and Humanitarian Assistance needs to be replicated.
- Security and Economic Relations need to be balanced.
Leaders and Commitments
- PM of Nepal – Region not on track to achieve SDGs by 2030 and CoVID-19 has further strained the efforts.
- PM of Thailand – Called for a Prosperous, Resilient and Robust and Open (PRO) BIMSTEC.
- India offered financial assistance to the Secretariat and established an Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) for producing a vision document.
- Myanmar’s participation was restricted due to unstable political situation.
- India and Thailand need to astutely manage the situation regarding Myanmar.
- Focus should be more on new areas like Blue Economy, Digital Economy and promotion of links and exchanges among the MSMEs.
What more is needed?
- Personal engagement of political leadership should be upped.
- BIMSTEC needs greater visibility and nations can utilize other multilateral forums for the same. Ex. India hosting G-20 Summit in 2023.
- Simplified name needs some attention; Bay of Bengal Community (BoBC) seems viable.
BIMSTEC represents a fifth of the Global Population but contributes only 4% to the World GDP. To trigger an accelerated economic development it needs to turn its ambitions into actions via co-operation.
Source – The Hindu