Bay of Bengal community seeks prosperity pact
The time is ripe for BIMSTEC leaders to give unequivocal directives to facilitate conclusion of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which has been in negotiation phase after its framework agreement was finalized 13 years ago.
Heads of mission representing country members in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) hope for the FTA at the 4th BIMSTEC Summit due in Kathmandu 30-31 Aug 2018.
The unanimous view of the BIMSTEC envoys was that out of the 14 identified priority sectors of cooperation, there was a need to focus on select areas such as connectivity, energy, trade, investment, climate change and counter-terrorism measures.
The envoys met at “Fourth BIMSTEC Summit: Expectations, Challenges and Opportunities”, on 20 Aug 2018 in New Delhi. The meeting was organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. This, they said, would give visibility to the regional grouping and make it a meaningful platform for prosperity in the region.
They expressed disappointment that 13 years after the framework agreement was finalised, FTA was still being negotiated.
Panelists shared their vision for the FTA as a catalyst for regional economic development over the next 20 years. The BIMSTEC member nations are: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal.
The panelists were Chitranganee Wagiswara, High Commissioner, Sri Lankan High Commission; Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Ambassador, Embassy of Thailand; Syed Muazzem Ali, High Commissioner, Bangladesh High Commission; Moe Kyaw Aung, Ambassador, Embassy of Myanmar; and Jambay Yeshi, Economic Counsellor, Embassy of Bhutan.
The heads of BIMSTEC missions called for people-oriented decisions based on regional connectivity and economic integration.
Piyush Srivastava, Joint Secretary BIMSTEC & SAARC at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, expressed the hope that the Nepal Summit of BIMSTEC leaders would give a further impetus to people’s expectation of bettering their lives in the region.
He laid stress on cooperation in the areas of security, disaster management, tourism, trade and public health.
FICCI, the meeting host, recommended 10-point action agenda for rejuvenating BIMSTEC
On the occasion, a Knowledge Paper prepared by FICCI’s Core Group of experts was released. The paper makes several policy recommendations for a thorough renewal and rejuvenation of BIMSTEC as the premier regional grouping, committed to securing greater cooperation and integration in the next decade.
The FICCI paper states that BIMSTEC needs strategic thrusts in select priority sectors if it is keen to emerge as a result-oriented, effective and influential institution.
This macro goal will be achieved by concluding negotiations for FTA agreements and trade facilitation, strengthening infrastructure linkages, deepening regional transport connectivity, facilitating cross-border trade and investment, and tourism, enhancing private sector participation and competitiveness, supporting regional power trading, developing human resources through mutual cooperation, Protecting environment and promoting sustainable use of shared natural resources, creating the Bay of Bengal Community (BoBC) and, promoting all-round cooperation in ‘soft power’ areas. fiinews.com