BIMSTEC meet next week amid high hope to refresh cooperation
Tribune Business Desk

Many MoUs in sectors like energy, agriculture and tourism, are expected to be signed at the summit

  • Map of South and Southeast Asia indicating BIMSTEC members 
    Photo- Wikimedia

The third summit of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) scheduled early next month is seen with high hope for refreshing regional cooperation.

Myanmar is holding the summit in its capital city, Nay Pyi Taw on March 1-4, which is being held after a six-year break.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will lead the Bangladesh delegation to the Summit, reports BSS.

The seven-nation regional bloc for multi-level cooperation could not organise the third summit in the past six years for various reasons including election and scheduling issues. The second summit was held in New Delhi, India in 2008 after four years of the first one in Bangkok, Thailand in 2004.

Established in 1997 in the capital city of Thailand, the regional bloc identified 14 areas of cooperation including trade and investment, technology, energy, transport and communication, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, cultural cooperation, environment and disaster management, public health, poverty alleviation, counter- terrorism and transnational crime and climate change.

At the third meeting, heads of state and government will focus on achieving visible headway in the priority areas by establishing bi-lateral and multi-lateral cooperation.

According to the BIMSTEC secretariat, a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) is expected to be signed at the summit. Among the sectors to be covered by the MoUs that have been finalised are energy, agriculture and tourism.

The other MoU to be inked will enable setting up of the group’s secretariat in Bangladesh and a Weather and Climate Centre in New Delh, India.

The Bangladesh government in March, 2013 approved the proposal of singing of the MoU for establishment of a permanent secretariat of BIMSTEC in Dhaka and has already allocated a building in the capital’s Gulshan area for an interim headquarter for the secretariat. The government would provide office premises for the secretariat for five years and bear all maintenance expenditures of the office.

The first secretary general of the organisation will come from Sri Lanka, and it will use the names of member states in alphabetical order for the next secretaries general.

The theme of the 3rd BIMSTEC Summit is “Partnership for Harmony and Prosperity” which could serve as modus operandi in accelerating the economic growth and social progress in the sub- region through joint endeavours in a spirit of equality and partnership.

Besides the MoUs, agreement on a Cultural Industries Commission to be set up in Thimpu, Kathmandu would be discussed at the summit. There will also have discussions on strengthening of cooperation among media of the seven countries, which would help foster the regional cooperation further.

Heads of state and government are expected to have bi- lateral meeting on the sideline of the summit.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand are the members of the group. 

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