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India seeks closer BIMSTEC partnership

Focus – GS-II, International Relations

Context

Addressing the ministerial of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi–Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), EAM S. Jaishankar urged closer cooperation and connectivity among the members.

What is BIMSTEC?

  • The BIMSTEC formed in 1997 is an international organisation of seven South Asian and Southeast Asian nations, housing 1.73 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.8 trillion (2021).
  • The BIMSTEC member states – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand – are among the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal.
  • Leadership is rotated in alphabetical order of country names. The permanent secretariat is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation (c. 2018), also referred to as the mini SAARC.

Objectives of BIMSTEC

There are 14 main sectors of BIMSTEC along technological and economic cooperation among South Asian and Southeast Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

  1. Trade & Investment
  2. Transport & Communication
  3. Energy
  4. Tourism
  5. Technology
  6. Fisheries
  7. Agriculture
  8. Public Health
  9. Poverty Alleviation
  10. Counter-Terrorism & Transnational Crime
  11. Environment & Disaster Management
  12. People-to-People Contact
  13. Cultural Cooperation
  14. Climate Change

 About the proposed BIMSTEC FTA Framework

  • The BIMSTEC FTA has been signed by all member nations to stimulate trade and investment in the parties, and attract outsiders to trade with and invest in the BIMSTEC countries at a higher level.
  • Subsequently, the “Trade Negotiating Committee” (TNC) was set up, with Thailand as the permanent chair, to negotiate in areas of trade in goods and services, investment, economic co-operation, trade facilitations and technical assistance for LDCs.
  • Once negotiation on trade in goods is completed, the TNC would then proceed with negotiation on trade in services and investment.

BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement draft

  • It was discussed on 1 December 2017 in New Delhi, to facilitate coastal shipping within 20 nautical miles of the coastline in the region to boost trade between the member countries.
  • Compared to the deep sea shipping, coastal ship require smaller vessels with lesser draft and involve lower costs.
  • Once the agreement becomes operational after it is ratified, a lot of cargo movement between the member countries can be done through the cost effective, environment friendly and faster coastal shipping routes.

BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity

  • The BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity, finalized under India’s chairmanship of the expert group last year, envisages a seamless multimodal transport system across the region.
  • This will stimulate intra-regional trade and investment in the region.
  • It identifies 264 projects requiring an investment of $ 126 billion over a ten year horizon from 2018–2028.

Source – The Hindu


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