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Special: BIMSTEC 2018

Context and background
BIMSTEC’s Fourth Summit concludes in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. In this conference several important things were discussed between the member countries and agreed on them. Leaders of BIMSTEC countries have reiterated their commitment to meaningful cooperation and solidarity for peace, prosperity and sustainable development in the Bay of Bengal. Along with this, BIMSTEC was emphasized to create dynamic, effective organization. Apart from organizations like SAARC and BRICS, BIMSTEC countries’ organization is also very important for India. BIMSTEC was founded in 1997. Apart from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan and Thailand are included. 22 percent of the world’s population lives in BIMSTEC countries. At the same time, the total GDP of BIMSTEC countries is $ 2.7 trillion. BIMSTEC countries are very important in economic and strategic terms.
Kathmandu Declaration of BIMSTEC 
  • Nepalese Prime Minister of Nepal on the conclusion of BIMSTEC conference in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal P. Sharma Oli presented the draft Kathmandu Declaration.
  • Leaders of BIMSTEC countries have reiterated the commitment of solidarity and solidarity for peace, prosperity and sustainable development in the Bay of Bengal. Along with this, BIMSTEC was emphasized to create dynamic, progressive and prospective organizations.
  • This conference was important in many ways. It has been described as a framework for future cooperation. There was an agreement to add electricity grid between BIMSTEC member countries. This will allow member countries to purchase and sell electricity among themselves.
  • The Prime Minister of Nepal said that BIMSTEC countries have decided to revive the organization and increase cooperation in sectors like trade, connectivity and tourism.
  • The fourth BIMSTEC summit began on August 30, 2018. In the inaugural session, there was an intensive discussion on issues such as connectivity, trade, digital and public relations among the member countries.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed India’s commitment to these issues in the inaugural speech. He said that every kind of connectivity should be enhanced between the member countries of BIMSTEC.
  • The Prime Minister also presented a wide range of new initiatives between BIMSTEC countries. In this, the start-up conference will be held at the end of this year between the member countries, the Ministerial Conference of BIMSTEC countries during the Indo-Mobile Congress in October, Practices for cooperation in the field of disaster management by World Universities, 30 scholarships annually at Nalanda University, Advance Medicine 12 research fellowships, 100 Indian Technical and Economical programs in various fields, BIMSTEC For the Son of diplomats, including specialized courses and Forum of Women Parliamentarians of the BIMSTEC countries |
  • The Prime Minister called for fighting together with problems like terrorism and drug trafficking.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the formation of a Center for the Study of Bay Area of ​​the Bay of Bengal at Nalanda University. He said that in August 2020 India will organize International Buddhist Conference. He invited all the BIMSTEC leaders as a special guest at this conference.
  • The Prime Minister said that the fourth BIMSTEC Summit is a golden opportunity to meet the expectations of the people.
  • In the inaugural session, the Prime Minister of Nepal also criticized every form of terrorism and urged member countries to cooperate in the business case.
Importance of BIMSTEC 
  • BIMSTEC is the International Economic Cooperation Organization of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) South Asia and South-East Asian countries, which was established on June 6, 1997, from the Bangkok Declaration. |
  • This organization, created for technical and technical cooperation, includes India including Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
  • This organization of seven countries is basically a collaborative organization that started with the foundation of trade, energy, tourism, fisheries, transportation and technology, but later it was supported by agriculture, poverty eradication, terrorism, culture, public relations, public health and environment And climate change was also included.
  • BIMSTEC is headquartered in Dhaka. The significance of BIMSTEC can be estimated from the fact that about 22 per cent of the world’s population lives in these seven countries located near the Bay of Bengal, with a combined GDP of $ 2.7 trillion.
  • All these countries maintained their average economic growth rate between 3.4% and 7.5% between 2012 and 2016.
  • One fourth of the business going through the sea through the sea passes through the Bay of Bengal.
  • The main objectives of BIMSTEC include technical and economic cooperation between South Asian and Southeast Asian countries along the Bay of Bengal.
Why is BIMSTEC important for India?
  • The 7 countries of BIMSTEC are located around the Bay of Bengal, which reflect the uniform regional unity. India has played an active role in promoting this organization from the very beginning.
  • BIMSTEC works like a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asian countries. There are two countries in this group of Southeast Asia. Myanmar and Thailand are extremely important in connecting India with south-eastern areas.
  • This will not only boost India’s business, but the highway project between India and Myanmar will strengthen India’s East Asia policy.
  • Apart from all this, BIMSTEC is very important for India. Indeed, due to Pakistan’s negative role, India gives great importance to BIMSTEC. This will have a positive effect on India’s East East Policy.
  • Strong relation between BIMSTEC countries can accelerate the development of the Northeast region of India. This will also facilitate the transportation project between India-Myanmar and the development of the Indo-Myanmar-Thailand highway project.
  • Apart from India, this organization is very important for BIMSTEC member countries. Through BIMSTEC, where Bangladesh sees itself as a small country in the Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka sees it as an opportunity to connect it with Southeast Asia.
  • Through this Sri Lanka wants to increase its economic activity in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
  • On the other hand, BIMSTEC promotes the hope of connecting with the Bay of Bengal and avoiding its underground geographical position for Nepal and Bhutan.
  • By the way, Myanmar and Thailand will find new opportunities to connect with the Bay of Bengal and trade with India. Through BIMSTEC, efforts can be made to prevent large-scale infiltration of China in Southeast Asia.
  • China has made huge investments in almost all BIMSTEC countries except Bhutan and India. In such a way, reaching the Bay of Bengal to reach the Indian Ocean is becoming important for China. While India wants to maintain its reach and dominance in the Bay of Bengal. In this sense, BIMSTEC also becomes very important for India.
  • BIMSTEC not only connects South and South-East Asia but also incorporates the ecology of Himalaya and Bay of Bengal.
  • Due to the shared values, history and ways of life associated with each other, BIMSTEC represents a similar situation for peace and development.
  • For India, BIMSTEC is a natural platform for fulfilling the priorities of our foreign policy of ‘Neighborhood First and Past and Watch’.
  • Regional cooperation has been an important issue in every country of the world, whose purpose is to promote regional development, prosperity.
  • In order to deal with the current situation, it has always been looking for the ideal platform and it is the belief that BIMSTEC was formed.
Has BIMSTEC emerged as an alternative to SAARC?
  • BIMSTEC works like a bridge between South and South-East Asia. Five of its seven countries are members of SAARC while two are ASEAN members. In this case, it is also a platform for inter-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN countries.
  • Even before the formation of BIMSTEC, regional organizations have been in existence in Asia in relation to mutual cooperation, in which SAARC is important. The 8-member organization came into being on December 8, 1985 in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, which aims at exploring opportunities for mutual cooperation in economic prosperity, social and cultural development and other areas.
  • In the past years, BIMSTEC has been expanding its agenda significantly. This group has identified 14 areas of priority, out of which 4 lead areas are India Lead Country, which includes a strategy against terrorism with transport and communication, tourism, environment and disaster management.
  • Knowledgeable that India is encouraging BIMSTEC than SAARC. Active participation in India’s BIMSTEC will have a positive impact on India’s East East Policy. Not only that, in order to counter the cross-border terrorism and militancy, India needs a regional organization in which member countries are ideologically unanimous on the issue of terrorism.
  • The importance of BIMSTEC is increasing due to the failure of SAARC and the mutual tension between India and Pakistan, which can prove to be a major platform for regional cooperation in the future.
Do not live up to expectations
  • In fact, in the situation in which the SAARC has been in the last 30 years, this organization has just become formal.
  • There is no evidence of the survival of an organization only being organized regularly. As far as the SAARC concrete steps are concerned, Pakistan’s non-cooperation and political divide are not being done.
  • There is also a consensus on the war against terrorism in member countries, but Pakistan’s member country and India’s neighboring country, Pakistan, have never played together on the issue of terrorism and this has become a big threat to SAARC’s failure.
  • After the terrorist attack on September 18, 2016 in Kashmir’s Urii, India refused to take part in the SAARC Summit held in Pakistan.
  • As far as the achievements of SAARC are concerned, many agreements in the field of energy and transport remain very important.
Due to the failure of SAARC
India-Pakistan relations do not get better 
  • South East Regional Cooperation has weakened due to lack of diplomatic consensus and military conflict between India and Pakistan. 
  • It is known that after the Uri terrorist attack, India had boycotted the 19th SAARC Summit in Pakistan. 
  • Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan also agreed in favor of India and finally the conference was abrogated. 
Worrisome situation of regional trade 
  • There has been no progress in regional trade between SAARC countries. Be aware that mutual trade between member countries has been only 3.5% of their total business. 
  • Initiatives taken under the South Asian Free Trade Association have failed to achieve their objectives. 
Lack of better connectivity 
  •  If the progress is not made on the trade front in this area, then a major reason for this is not to make connectivity better. 
  • Sub-regional initiatives such as the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement are halted. 
  • The benefits of SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme are available only to some dignitaries. 
  • Better connectivity has not been ensured due to the poor condition of basic infrastructure in SAARC countries. 
(Team Vision Input) 
History of BIMSTEC 
  • It was formed as a sub-regional economic cooperation organization on June 6, 1997 after the Bangkok Declaration.
  • Initially this organization was included in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand and its name was BIST-EC i.e. Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation.
  • Myanmar also joined this group in December 1997 and its name was BIMST-EC. After this, Bhutan and Nepal joined the group in February 2004.
  • In its first conference held in Bangkok on July 31, 2004, it was decided to keep its name BIMSTEC, which is a small form of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
  • Member countries get the membership of BIMSTEC according to the order of the first letter of their name.
  • BIMSTEC conducts a high level conference for mutual interaction between member countries. In addition to the talks between summit assemblies, mid-level meetings, high officials’ meetings and experts, through the BIMSTEC Working Group in Bangkok, it provides a platform for connecting between the various governments.
  • So far four summit of BIMSTEC has been held and many Minister and official level meetings have been held. 
    ♦ First Summit 2004 Bangkok  
    ♦ Second Summit 2008 New Delhi  
    ♦ Third Summit 2014 Myanmar  
    ♦ Fourth Summit 2018 Kathmandu 
BIMSTEC’s first summit 
  • The first summit held in Bangkok was a new direction to this sub-region group. The conference was attended by the President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand.
  • After this conference, BIMSTEC was changed to BIMSTEC by changing the name of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Technical and Economic Cooperation.
  • The conference was specially emphasized in trade and investment, transport and communication, tourism, energy, human resources development, agriculture, fisheries, science and technology and people-to-people contacts.
  • Apart from this, international counterterrorism, agreeing to provide mutual cooperation among member countries to counter the international crime.
BIMSTEC second summit 
  • In the second Summit of BIMSTEC organized in New Delhi in 2008, issues like climate change, energy, food security and maritime terrorism were discussed.
  • India emphasized that a comprehensive review of the activities of BIMSTEC should be done and a common plan should be prepared while deciding the priorities. 
  • Apart from this, India talked about enhancing the connectivity and relations between all countries on transport infrastructure and sea transport issues. In this conference, there was talk of enhancing mutual relations in tourism sector.
BIMSTEC’s 3rd Summit 
  • BIMSTEC’s third summit was held in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw in 2014. This conference talked about promoting regional cooperation and integration in the Gulf region of Bengal.
  • Apart from this, there was talk of cooperation between member countries and security and strategic cooperation in many areas including energy, public health and agriculture. Also BIMSTEC was seen as an ideal platform for promoting peace, stability and prosperity.
BIMSTEC Fourth Summit 
  • BIMSTEC Fourth Summit concluded in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.
  • In view of the activities of BIMSTEC, ADV ie Asia Development Bank became its partner for the development of the organization.
  • ADV encourages ADB to fund physical, economic and cultural contacts between BIMSTEC countries and fund.
Challenges before BIMSTEC 
  • Before its grouping, there is a need to speed up its interactive collaboration in the era of present-day globalization. 
  • The BIMSTEC Secretariat has been set up in Dhaka in 2014, but its reach needs to be enhanced like other organizations like SAARC, ASEAN. 
  • There is also a need to increase trade and investment between the groups. For this, India should follow the policies of China and the United States who have invested heavily on trade and investment projects in their neighboring countries.
Conclusion : If you want happiness and prosperity in your life, then it is very important to have progressive, collaborative and shared thoughts towards your neighbors who will not help obstructing your development and help you in writing the evolutionary process through your cooperation. The same applies to countries as well. This is the reason that India has always been talking about regional cooperation, good relations with neighboring countries and development oriented. Several platforms like SAARC, BRICS, ASEAN and BIMSTEC have been shaped to provide platform for regional cooperation and mutual development.
Billion population and the birthplace of the world’s largest religions, South Asia, is present in everything that is needed to become a regional force that identifies itself on the global scene. At present, BIMSTEC can prove to be a better platform for mutual cooperation between member countries. There is considerable potential for regional solidarity, cooperation and community development. This can be especially important in the context of India’s Act East Policy. Pakistan’s non-existent organization can give better and big alternative platforms to SAARC for mutual cooperation among countries in South Asia.
Updated: January 3, 2019 — 5:58 am

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