The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC, groups together Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The seven-country forum aims to achieve its own free trade area by 2017.
last update: May 2012
Photo: Palácio do Planalto/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) amongst Bimstec region is in the pipeline, according to Mr Yogendra Kumar, additional secretary, ministry of external affairs.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will attend the summit conference of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) to be held in New Delhi on November 13. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is also scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand established in 1997 is a $810 billion economy, sharing about 22% of world population and 3.64% of surface area. After a gap of three years, India is going to host the second BIMSTEC summit during November 11-13, 2008 at New Delhi. The last summit was held in Bangkok in 2004. The summit-level meeting in BIMSTEC was delayed mainly due to political reasons and non-cooperation of some of the member countries.
Bangladesh feels that the BIMSTEC has immense potential for creating greater economic interaction, flow of trade and investment among the member states, though its FTA has yet to be finalised.
Seven countries of the Bay of Bengal rim will plan a common agenda for agriculture development to ensure food security and measures aimed at poverty alleviation at their first ministerial meeting here on 9 July.
It remains unclear to me what the advantages of being part of the Saarc grouping are over entering into bilateral relations with each individual Saarc country instead. I have always like the concept of Bimstec instead.
In what is being described as a success for India and a "failure and punishment for Pakistan" on the economic diplomacy front, India has formed a regional trading bloc excluding Islamabad, and including all the SAFTA members, besides Thailand.
The next meeting of the Trade Negotiation Committee (TNC) of BIMSTEC is hanging in the balance due to inability of the member countries to fix a date for reviewing the progress of the previous meetings.
Concerned over the possibility of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) of Bimstec nations becoming an obstacle to the projected 74% jump in India’s exports to them from 2003 figures, the government will soon collect data regarding the current and future revenue loss incurred due to the NTBs.
Foreign Ministers from the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Economic and Technical Cooperation have agreed that negotiations to finalise a BIMSTEC free trade agreement should be concluded before the next BIMSTEC summit scheduled to be held early next year in India.