BIMSTEC COUNTRIES TO SIGN FTA EARLY NEXT YEAR
Monday December 19, 2005
DHAKA, Dec 19 Asia Pulse - BIMSTEC (Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Co-operation) Trade Ministers will sign a free-trade deal on goods at their Dhaka meet early next year and ease visa procedures for travels in the sub-region.
The FTA deal will be signed on conclusion of the negotiations at the trade talks in Kathmandu on December 21-27, BIMSTEC Foreign Secretaries decided in a meeting here Sunday.
The 10th session of the BIMSTEC senior officials meeting, chaired by host Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin, also agreed that the visa regime should be eased for facilitating travels to BIMSTEC member-countries on a larger scale.
Briefing the press after the daylong discussion, Hemayet said they discussed greater cooperation and the progress made so far in six core areas - trade and investment, multi-modal transportation and communications, tourism, energy, technology and agriculture.
The meeting’s recommendations will be placed with BIMSTEC foreign ministers’ meeting tomorrow for the decision on cooperation in these sectors.
Hemayet said a ministerial meeting would be held in Dhaka next year on poverty alleviation while tourism ministers of the group will meet in Kathmandu to make way for developing tourism in the vast region across the Bay of Bengal.
"The meeting also discussed how to promote energy cooperation and technology exchanges among the member-states," the FS told reporters.
He said the issue of cooperation in counter-terrorism also came up for discussion.
The meeting reviewed the progress made by a joint-working group on this crucial option.
Replying to a question, he said the Asian Development Bank’s proposed association with BIMSTEC came up for discussion and the recommendation on this matter would be made at the ministerial meeting.
Hemayet said the senior officials from BIMSTEC expressed their "genuine willingness to carry forward" the forum set up in 1997. He said that BIMSTEC could be complimentary to SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).