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PM proposes categorizing 14 sectors to tap Bimstec potentials

  • Published at 08:53 pm August 30th, 2018
Prime Minister delivers her speech at the at the 4th Bimstec summit in Kathmandu, Nepal
Prime Minister delivers her speech at the at the 4th Bimstec summit in Kathmandu, Nepal on August 30, 2018 PID

The prime minister was delivering a speech at the 4th Bimstec summit in Kathmandu, Nepal

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed categorizing 14 sectors into several clusters to make them more synergized in helping achieve an early dividend from Bimstec.

"To receive an early dividend from Bimstec, we would like to propose categorizing the 14 sectors into several clusters to make them more synergized, focused, and implementable," she said while delivering her statement at the 4th Bimstec summit Thursday, reports UNB.

She mentioned three clusters: sustainable development, security and stability, and people-to-people contact.

Emphasizing on tapping Bimstec potentials, Sheikh Hasina said: "The [Bimstec] region has a huge scope of expanding intra-trade. We have to utilize the potential that has largely remained untapped."

The two-day summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), an organization of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia, began at Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza yesterday with its chairperson and Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in the chair.

The Bimstec members are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

According to the proposal by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, trade, investment, connectivity, science and technology, energy, poverty alleviation and agriculture sectors that directly add economic and social benefits for people may be categorized under one cluster – sustainable development.

In the same manner, she said, security, anti-terrorism, climate change, and disaster management that protect and promote prosperity may be placed under another cluster – security and stability.

She added that culture and public health that facilitate and influence progress and prosperity may be placed under a third cluster – people-to-people contact.

"In the same light, we may also consider reviewing the scope and structure of Bimstec in view of the evolving political and economic scenario," the prime minister said.

Bimstec is a very dynamic region with 1.5 billion people accounting for almost 22% of global population, while its combined GDP is $2.8 trillion with an average growth rate of above 6%, she said.

The Bangladesh premier, however, also stated that despite very passionate collective commitment the Bimstec Forum achieved moderate success during the 21 years of its existence.

"A huge task, therefore, remains ahead of us. We need to consolidate fundamental legal framework to carry forward the substantive engagements in our cooperation to produce visible results," the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina further said.

She remarked that the Special Bimstec Retreat in Goa in 2016 hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was an important step forward.

"Some of the decisions of the 16-point Agenda of Action adopted in Goa have been executed while many are yet to be realized."

She added that poverty, climate change, and terrorism, among others, remain some of the common enemies of the region.

As a leader in tackling in climate change, Bangladesh has initiated adaptation and mitigation programs, she said adding that Bangladesh has created a Climate Change Trust Fund of $400 million in line with its Comprehensive Climate Change Strategy.

On terrorism, she said: "We have successfully implemented our 'Zero Tolerance' policy in addressing terrorism in all of its manifestations."

The prime minister said Bangladesh hosted the 2nd Bimstec Security Chief's Meeting in Dhaka earlier this year. "As the lead country for trade and investment, we've been pursuing the promotion of meaningful engagements and cooperation."

She mentioned that the global scenario is changing very fast resulting in new dynamics in every sphere. "We have to match the new dynamics and the current reality through three-pronged cooperation- bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally."

She said the cooperation in the Bimstec can be expanded through the creation of a free trade area, investment and energy cooperation, enhancing people-to-people contact and funding mechanism.

She remarked that some Bimstec countries have bilateral arrangements of electricity grid connections. "With the participation of others, this can be turned into a Bimstec Electricity Grid."

Talking about Bangladesh's progress, she said it made significant economic and social progress during the last 10 years,with the per capita GDP reaching$1,752 during the current fiscal year from $543 in 2006. The poverty rate has dropped to 21% in 2018 from 41.5% in 2006 in Bangladesh.

"We are committed to pursuing all means of domestic, bilateral, regional and international cooperation in transforming Bangladesh to a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041."