Bimstec members agree to deepen cooperationThe 18th session of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) senior officials’ meeting held in Kathmandu on Thursday underlined the need for early finalisation of the Bimstec Free Trade Area Agreement, signing of a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of grid connection, and conclusion of memorandum of association on the establishment of a technology transfer facility.
The 18th session of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) senior officials’ meeting held in Kathmandu on Thursday underlined the need for early finalisation of the Bimstec Free Trade Area Agreement, signing of a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of grid connection, and conclusion of memorandum of association on the establishment of a technology transfer facility.
The meeting involving representatives from all member states, recognising the importance of trade, energy and technology in regional cooperation, stressed the urgency for focusing on core areas like trade, investment, connectivity, energy and tourism. It urged the member states for an early operationalisation of Bimstec Centres established in the respective countries.
“The member states have agreed to pursue the concept of deepening rather than widening,” Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi told a press conference, clarifying that the members aim to deepen concentration in focal areas rather than widen focus on different sectors for getting tangible benefits.
At the meeting, Nepal proposed circulating a draft concept paper on mountain economy and hosting an expert level meeting to finalise the concept paper.
“Our proposal will benefit countries like Nepal, India and Bhutan that have significant possibilities of mountains,” Bairagi said.
Nepal, as the lead country for the poverty alleviation sector, offered to host a meeting on poverty alleviation on November 1. Nepal has also offered to host the fifth meeting of Bimstec sub-group on Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals, the eighth meeting of the Bimstec sub-group on Legal and Law Enforcement Issues, and the tenth meeting of the Bimstec sub-group on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism in the first quarter of 2018.
The meeting adopted reports of various sectoral groups and sub-groups under the regional institution.
The senior officials’ meeting also nominated Shahidul Islam of Bangladesh as the next secretary general of Bimstec for endorsement by the ministerial meeting.
A draft of the joint statement to be adopted by the ministerial meeting has also been readied for endorsement on Friday.
Regional cooperation compulsion not choice: PM
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has said regional cooperation was not a choice but compulsion. In his inaugural address to the Fifteenth Bimstec Ministerial Meeting here in Kathmandu on Thursday, PM Deuba said that in this age of globalisation and economic interdependence, “it is but natural for Nepal to aspire to grow together with the region”.
He said Nepal wanted to contribute to the realisation of a vibrant and dynamic economic region that is also “a peaceful and harmonious as our success, as a regional grouping, will lie in our collective efforts to ensure that deeper integration benefits all member states in an equitable way”.
Member countries of Bimstec are at different stages of social and economic development, thus “Bimstec must give due attention to the differential needs of its members in order to be effective as a regional grouping,” PM Deuba said.
He added that the Bimstec region, like any other, confronts the dangers of transnational crimes. Militant extremism; human, arms and drug trafficking had deeply disturbed peace and harmony in the region. (PR)