Sunday, January 4, 2009

BIMSTEC: New Trade Horizon

Recently, the second summit for the BIMSTEC was held in New Delhi. Various leaders from the member countries participated in the summit and outlined the policies and various focus of the association. BIMSTEC agreed to enhance collaborative efforts to jointly face the current global financial crisis.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also participated and pitched to formulate a free trade agreement for goods and services trade between the BIMSTEC counties. The summit also gave BIMSTEC a more comprehensive and detailed role with a joint declaration by the leaders to cooperate in areas like agriculture, climate, technology, poverty, food security, transport, crime and terrorism, culture, tourism and energy.

The body also took note of the progress made so far on negotiations for goods in the BIMSTEC free trade area. The members of the BIMSTEC are negotiating and finalising the Free Trade Agreement between the countries on priority basis in the summit.
Other issues that were received attention in the summit included climate change, strengthening cooperation in poverty alleviation in the context of food security. A proposal to establish a BIMSTEC poverty alleviation centre in Bangladesh and a food security reserve among BISTEC members were also formulated. Another proposal was to set up a BIMSTEC technology transfer facility in Sri Lanka to help in the sharing of technologies targeted towards micro, small and medium scale enterprises in the region. In the field of technology, India announced 150 new scholarships to facilitate the sharing of technical know how in the region.

Full Form: Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation
Members: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal
Economy Prospects: The total GDP of the area is 1.7 trillion dollars.
Evolution: BIMSTEC is regional body set up in 1997 whose main purpose is to serve as a link between South Asia and South East Asia for better trade, transport and overall development in the region. It was set up under the leadership of Indian in June 1997. Initially, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok by Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation. Later Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan were also added in the group making it BIMSTEC in December 1997. During the first summit held on 31 July 2004, leaders of the group agreed that the name of the grouping should be known as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.