Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018). The BIMSTEC member states—Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Nepal and Bhutan —are among the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal.
Fourteen priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors. A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation (c. 2018).
Leadership is rotated in alphabetical order of country names. The permanent secretariat is in Dhaka.
On 6 June 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). In 1998, Nepal became an observer. In February 2004, Nepal and Bhutan become full members.
Current Secretary General of BIMSTEC is Ambassador Mohammad Shahidul Islam from Bangladesh and former Secretary General was Sumith Nakandala from Srilanka.
BIMSTEC uses the alphabetical order for the Chairmanship. The Chairmanship of BIMSTEC has been taken in rotation commencing with Bangladesh (1997–1999).
|Countries||Leader Position||Head of government||Head of state||Population||GDP (Nominal)||World Bank||SAARC|
|Bangladesh||Prime minister||Sheikh Hasina,||Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh||162,951,560||$314 bn||✔||✔|
|Bhutan||Prime minister||Lotay Tshering,||Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan||797,765||$2.5 bn||✔||✔|
|India||Prime minister||Narendra Modi,||Ram Nath Kovind, President of India||1,324,171,354||$2700.0 bn||✔||✔|
|Myanmar||President||Win Myint, President of Myanmar||52,885,223||$68.277 bn||✔||✖|
|Nepal||Prime minister||Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal||Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal||28,982,771||$25.020 bn||✔||✔|
|Sri Lanka||President||Ranil Wickremesinghe,||Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka||20,798,492||$80.4 bn||✔||✔|
|Thailand||Prime minister||Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand||King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X),||68,863,514||$457.24 bn||✔||✖|
BIMSTEC priority sectors
|Priority Area||Lead Country||Centre||Comments|
|Transport and communication||India|
|Tourism||India||BIMSTEC Tourism Information Centre, Delhi|
|Counterterrorism and transnational crime||India||Four subgroups: Intelligence sharing – Sri Lanka (lead),
Terror financing – Thailand,
Legal – Myanmar,
Law enforcement and narcotics – Myanmar
|Environment and disaster management||India||BIMSTEC Weather and Climate Centre, NOIDA|
|Energy||India||BIMSTEC Energy Centre, Bengaluru||BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection MoU signed in 2014.|
|Public Health||Thailand||BIMSTEC Network of Traditional Medicine in India|
|Trade & Investment||Bangladesh|
|Cultural Cooperation||Bhutan||1200 ITEC scholarships by India|
BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement
BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement (BFTAFA) has been signed by all member nations to stimulate trade and investment in the parties, and attract outsiders to trade with and invest in BIMSTEC at a higher level. Subsequently, the “Trade Negotiating Committee” (TNC) was set up, with Thailand as the permanent chair, to negotiate in areas of trade in goods and services, investment, economic co-operation, trade facilitations and technical assistance for LDCs. Once negotiation on trade in goods is completed, the TNC would then proceed with negotiation on trade in services and investment.
BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement draft was discussed on 1 December 2017 at New Delhi, to facilitate coastal shipping within 20 nautical miles of the coastline in the region to boost trade between the member countries. Compared to the deep sea shipping, coastal ship require smaller vessels with lesser draft and involve lower costs. Once the agreement becomes operational after it is ratified, a lot of cargo movement between the member countries can be done through the cost effective, environment friendly and faster coastal shipping routes.
Cooperation with Asian Development Bank (ADB)
|No.||Date||Host country||Host city|
|1st||31 July 2004||Thailand||Bangkok|
|2nd||13 November 2008||India||New Delhi|
|3rd||4 March 2014||Myanmar||Naypyidaw|
|4th||30, 31 August 2018||Nepal||Kathmandu|
- Road and rail Look-East connectivity projects
- Coast shipping
- Power grid inter-connection
- Regional disaster monitoring and warning system
Current leaders of BIMSTEC
- BRICS-BIMSTEC Summit, 2016
- Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal Initiative
- ASEAN & Look-East connectivity projects
- Asian Clearing Union
- Asian Development Bank
- Asia Cooperation Dialogue
- Mekong-Ganga Cooperation
- South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation
- “Nepal unlikely to host fourth ‘Bimstec’ summit this year”. Business Standard India. 3 June 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- “BIMSTEC summit ends with Oli presenting Kathmandu declaration”. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
- BIMSTEC: Building bridges between South Asia & Southeast Asia, IndiaWrites, 2014.
- “Energy”. bimstec.org. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- Haidar, Suhasini (15 October 2016). “BIMSTEC a sunny prospect in BRICS summit at Goa”. The Hindu. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- “BRICS Summit 2016: BIMSTEC members have economic opportunities to share, said Narendra Modi”. The Economic Times. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- See for a detailed historical account of the founding and evolution of BIST-EC and BIMST-EC e.g. Michael, Arndt (2013). India’s Foreign Policy and Regional Multilateralism (Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 145–163.
- “Third BIMSTEC Summit Declaration”. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- BIMSTC sectors
- “India Cabinet Approves Signing of BIMSTEC Power Grid Pact | News | South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation”. www.sasec.asia. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- “Nepal to join BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection”. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistic Study
- “BIMSTEC Summit”. Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- “Nepal proposes dates for Bimstec Summit”. Business Standard India. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- “4th BIMSTEC Summit: Kathmandu Declaration adopted by Member States”. Retrieved 31 August 2018.