• Wednesday, Apr 08, 2020
  • Last Update : 06:09 pm

Prioritizing intra-regional trade and investment

  • Published at 11:00 pm February 26th, 2020
BIMSTEC
Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

BIMSTEC has good plans in place, and it would benefit the entire region, not just Bangladesh

Since the formation of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) amongst seven member states in 1997, despite its positive impacts across several sectors, there is no doubt scope for this regional body to do much more.

To that end, it is good to see that Secretary General M Shahidul Islam has concrete plans for the future, and these plans should particularly help in bolstering intra-regional trade and investment amongst the member states of BIMSTEC.

It is quite disappointing that, despite the BIMSTEC region hosting 1.5 billion people and with a total economy of about $2.7 trillion, only 6.5% of total international trade is within themselves.

This is a painfully low number, and there is so much potential trade and investment that can be achieved within the region.

In a recent interview with the Dhaka Tribune, the secretary general outlined a few plans that should no doubt assist the region, and by extension Bangladesh.

Chief among the plans include the current development of the “BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Master Plan” which should go a long way towards ensuring smooth movement within the region and assist future trade as transport connectivity remains one of the biggest roadblocks.

Additionally, there is also a proposal to create a coordinated regional grid connection -- another excellent initiative which would promote regional cooperation, and overall power generation in the region.

BIMSTEC has good plans in place, and it would benefit the entire region, not just Bangladesh, if all member states became more serious with ensuring their successful implementation. 

Most countries that fall under BIMSTEC are looking to take the next step in their development journey, and if they work together -- it makes achieving their goals far more attainable. It is a win-win.