Why in News?
The seventeenth virtual Ministerial Meeting was in Colombo on April 1, 2021 regarding preparations of for the fifth BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Sri Lanka in 2021. The meeting was to make changes and improvement in BIMSTEC agreements, Conventions, MoUs/MoAs and other documents to be adopted in the upcoming Summit. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also addressed the meeting stating importance of the connectivity through BIMSTEC.
What is BIMSTEC?
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organization of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia constituting a regional unity.
The organization came into being on June 6, 1997 through the Bangkok declaration. After 17 years of the foundation its Permanent secretariat was established in Dhaka on 13th September 2014. H E Mr Tenzin Lekphell is the current General Secretary of BIMSTEC. The first General Secretary was Sumith Nakandala from Sri Lanka
BIMSTEC member states are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka of the South Asia and Myanmar and Thailand from the South East Asia. Initially, it was formed with four member states and was called BISTEC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). On December 22, 1997 Myanmar also was included and was later renamed as BIMST-EC at a Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok. In February 2004, Nepal and Bhutan also became a part of BIMST-EC at the 6th Ministerial Meeting and finally came to be called Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) because of its member states.
The Headquarters of BIMSTEC is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
BIMSTEC often also referred to as mini SAARC is an international organization of seven nations that houses 1.5 billion people and holds a combined Gross Domestic Product of $3.5 trillion as of 2018. The cooperation holds fourteen priority sectors with its specific BIMSTEC Centers. BIMSTEC plays a bridge between South and South East Asia nurturing the relations of member countries. BIMSTEC started with six sectors namely – trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries for sectoral cooperation in 1997. Later expanded in 2003 with – agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change.
Role of BIMSTEC in South and South East Asia
The main objective of BIMSTEC is growth through mutual cooperation. It contributes in accelerating growth by bringing together different areas of common interests by utilizing regional resources and geographical advantages. It provides help to increase the socio-economic growth of the member countries.
The External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar committed of further building the momentum of regional cooperation under the BIMSTEC Framework. BIMSTEC’s convention on cooperation in combating international terrorism, transnational organized crime and illicit drug trafficking came into force in March. Also, BIMSTEC’s Master Plan for Transport Connectivity is expected to be adopted at the fifth Summit.
Featured image source : OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF BIMSTEC