Dhaka wants seamless multi-modal connectivity and enhanced trade and investment in the BIMSTEC region.
“Enhanced trade and investment in this region will facilitate income and employment generation. Seamless multi-modal connectivity is a precondition for trade and investment promotion and people to people contact,” said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen while addressing the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting virtually held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, yesterday.
“We need the legal documents to be ready for signature at the earliest. Hosting meeting regularly and concurrences and participation of member states in those meetings are very much crucial in this regard,” he said.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and Southeast Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018). Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand are its members.
Though the sub-regional group was formed nearly three decades back, its various initiatives have remained slow.
Foreign Minister Momen said, “We need to work simultaneously on a faster pace in all priority sectors to bring synergy in our cooperation to make BIMSTEC a result oriented regional forum.”
Bangladesh is a founding member of BIMSTEC, whose secretariat is in Dhaka, said Momen, adding that as the host country, Bangladesh is committed to extend all possible support to strengthen the secretariat.
He said Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a visionary leader, thought of working together with the neighbours in the region for collective progress and prosperity of people. Regional cooperation has been Bangladesh’s foreign policy priorities since then.
The ministerial meeting approved and endorsed several BIMSTEC agreements, conventions, MoUs and other important documents/instruments to be signed or adopted at the Fifth BIMSTEC summit to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2021 subject to the Covid-19 situation.
The meeting approved and recommended the finalised draft text of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, the finalised draft text of the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Colombo, and the draft text of the MoU on Mutual Cooperation between Diplomatic Academies/Training Institutions of BIMSTEC Member States for signature during the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit.
The meeting approved the rationalisation of sectors and sub-sectors of BIMSTEC and the Template of the Memorandum of Association (MoA) on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Centres or Entities for adoption during the summit.
The meeting also adopted joint statement of the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting and BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity for onward submission to the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit.