Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali on Monday said Bimstec must redouble its efforts to be more effective and result-oriented in integrating the economies of its seven member countries to bolster the welfare of their people.
“The time has come for us to seriously review how we want Bimstec to be more effective and result-oriented, and draw synergies with other groupings,” he told an internal seminar on “BBIN and Bimstec: Prospects and Challenges” at Sapru House, New Delhi.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), launched in 1997, comprises seven countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Muazzem Ali urged Bimstec to focus on regular interaction, comprehensive connectivity within the region, enhancing regional trade through FTA, more investment, anti-terrorism cooperation, undertaking more regional projects, and setting Bimstec development goals.
“We need to expedite the Free Trade Agreement [FTA] between our member states based on a win-win outcome,” he said.
Speaking about BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal), the envoy mentioned the signing of Motor Vehicles Agreement as an achievement of the grouping.
He said the region can be transformed into a natural hub of economic development by connecting the countries within the Bimstec and with other adjoining regions.
The high commissioner also reiterated Bangladesh’s call to Myanmar to take back Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh over the months.
He said: “Myanmar should repatriate them so they can live in their own country in peace with dignity.”
“We have to do it for the sake of humanity….of the greater stability of our region and beyond,” added the high commissioner.