BIMSTEC CHARTER READY FOR ADOPTION IN NEXT MEET
BIMSTEC- Bay of Bengal initiative for multi-sectrol technical and economic cooperation
In an effort to integrate the region, the grouping was formed in 1997 after cold war ended for grow economic cooperation bay of Bengal region through Bangkok declaration. Originally formed with Bangladesh, India, Sri lanka, and Thailand and later included Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. This group included five south Asian countries and two south-east Asian countries so it’s a bridge between south and south-east Asia. This group not only connect south Asian nations but also link two different ecology Himalayan region and Bay of Bengal.
The main objective of forming this group is rapid development, increase social progress and promote cooperation on matters which are common interest of region.
At long fast, the charter of the BIMSTEC has been finalized, which is expected to move the regional organization forward.
It took more than 23 years for legal document of BIMSTEC, founded in Jun 1997, to be finalized.
The charter is due to be signed in the fifth summitof heads of states and governments of the seven member states, scheduled for January next year, according to the ministry of foreign affairs.
CHARTER ACCORING TO SECRETARY GENERAL
- Bangladesh will be the lead country for trade and investment, under the rationalization of the sectors
- Bhutan for environment and climate change
- India on security including counter terrorism, transnational crime and energy
- Myanmar on agriculture and food security
- Nepal for people to people contact including culture and tourism
- Sri lanka for science, technology and innovation
- Thailand on connectivity
Challeges for BIMSTEC-
1. Irregularity in meetings– BIMSTEC decided to hold meeting once in two years and ministerial level meet each year but only four meeting held in 24 years.
2. Ignorance by various countries– India is trying to promote the BIMSTEC as an alternative of the SAARC and countries like Thailand and Myanmar are more focused on ASEAN rather than BIMSTEC.
3. Focus on wide areas– the focus of BIMSTEC is very wide and deal of collaboration in various 14 sectors which is initially not possible so Bimstec needs to focus on 2-3 sectors initially and cooperate in these areas effectively.
4. Dissension between group member– one side Bangladesh and India faces Roheengiya refugees crisis from Myanmar and there is border conflict between India-Nepal and Thailand-Myanmar.
5. No free trade agreements– BIMSTEC countries total trade between each-other just about $40 billion and FDI was $46 billion but accordingly to experts BIMSTEC have potential of $750 bn trade but without FTAs this not possible anymore. Member countries started negotiating for FTA in 2004 but still not agreed on final agreement.
1. 1. Total population of BIMSTEC countries around 1.5billion and combined GDP of these nations approx $3.5 trillion in year 2018. That is why there is a lot of possibilities for economic growth in the group countries .
2. 2. Many transport projects are also going on or have became completed between these countries, which will helpful in the improve trade of goods in these countries continuously.
- Kaladan multimodal project between India and Myanmar
- Asian trilateral lines between India, Myanmar and Thailand
- BBIN motor vehicle agreement for Uninterrupted flow passenger and cargo traffics.
3. 3. One-fourth total goods of world traded goods cross the bay of Bengal.
Significance for India-
1. Through this group, India can pursue its three major policies neighborhood first, Developments of northeastern and eastern region of India and act east policy.
Neighborhood first– Via this alliance India can enhance economic and strategic ties with its neighbor countries Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar and India also started military exercise MILEX (Ist addition in 2018 in Pune, India) with member countries and throughout this alliance. India can respond to ambitious China in the region and can emerge as a China’s option. India needs to provide them soft loan credits, FDI and option of belt and road initiative.
Developments of North eastern region– All the other regions of India are connected to one or the other business rout, that is why those parts have developed but it is not there in the North and East regions. from last few years Govt working on developments of easthern and northern area like highways, railway lines and airports. after heavy infrastructure developed in these areas india can use this infra as way of trade from india to Asean and BIMSTEC nations. This trade will develop both region as well as it can be a option of belt and road intiative in south asia region.
Act East– It has always been the policy of India that it will maintain good relations with its neighbors that is why India has joined SAARC, BIMSTEC and SCO group with neighboring countries. At the same time, India has always maintained good relations with ASEAN countries as well, which is why India’s trade with ASEAN has reached $100 bn. BIMSTEC may be instrumental in furthering this policy, as well as it can be create new and easy route for trade from other Asian countries.