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Wednesday, January 14, 2015, Magh 1, 1421, Robiul Awal 22, 1436 Hijr

BIMSTEC meet in Dhaka mid-2015
Published : Wednesday, 14 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 75

Diplomatic Correspondent
The regional countries is expecting to ink four significant deals in the upcoming meeting of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Dhaka. Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told a seminar in the capital that Bangladesh will also host the 6th BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting by mid-2015, wherein it is expected to sign four important instruments related to BIMSTEC FTA (Free Trade Agreement).
He was addressing the inaugural session of a seminar 'Bangladesh and BIMSTEC: Way Forward' organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).
BIMSTEC Secretary General Sumith Nakandala, BIISS Director General AKM Abdur Rahman and Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs also addressed the seminar and chaired by BIISS Board of Governors' Chairman Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad.
"We believe early realisation of the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) to promote trade and investment is of critical importance," the foreign minister said.
BIMSTEC, a forum aimed towards beneficial cooperation among member South Asian countries, Mahmood Ali said the four deals would step up trade and investment among member states. Besides Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand are the member states of the BIMSTEC.
Another area of cooperation, member countries would immensely gain is connectivity. This would facilitate trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people contacts among the member states, he remarked.
He said that the BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistics Study (BTILS), already finalised by the ADB. It requires particular mention to follow-up on the recommendations of the study, particularly on the proposed priority projects, to create an inter-connected BIMSTEC region, he added.
Bangladesh will host a Task Force Meeting on Energy in early February 2015, which is expected to finalize the MoU on BIMSTEC Energy and Grid Interconnection.
Foreign Minister Ali said Bangladesh wants to see negotiations on investment and services become fast-traced to run parallel to the negotiations on trade in goods.
He said the BIMSTEC members were showing impressive trend of economic growth.
The foreign minister believes, the year 2015 could be a game-changer in respect of BIMSTEC as an organisation.
"To sustain the growth, we need to secure stable and affordable energy supply through exploration and utilisation of the regional energy resources potentials which will remain a core priority for the BIMSTEC," he added.
He said there was no lack of political commitment for making the BIMSTEC a success and he saw the highest standard of commitment in this regard from member states.
He said the member states need a kind of leadership which will take forward the BIMSTEC to reach its goal by learning from the failures. "Bangladesh is in right place to take the lead role."
"Bangladesh has always played a constructive role in enhancing regional cooperation - within the relevant processes of BIMSTEC, SAARC and BCIM-EC," he observed.
Bangladesh, as a founding member, is deeply committed to BIMSTEC. Our firm commitment to the BIMSTEC process was further demonstrated when the Member States of BIMSTEC decided that the BIMSTEC Secretariat would be established in Dhaka.
Bangladesh needs to translate its geo-strategic location into economic opportunities and tangible outcomes. "BIMSTEC, as a link between the two regions, can help us in achieving that goal," Mahmood Ali remarked.
Subsequently, following the signing of its 'Memorandum of Association' in March 2014 at the 3rd BIMSTEC Summit in Myanmar, the Secretariat started functioning in Dhaka in July 2014 with full support from the Government of Bangladesh.
The Member States of BIMSTEC are showing impressive trend of economic growth. To sustain the growth, we need to secure stable and affordable energy supply through exploration and utilization of the regional energy resource potentials - which would remain a core priority for BIMSTEC.
Under the aegis of BIMSTEC, we are also cooperating on important areas like poverty alleviation, climate change, agriculture, health, technology, counter-terrorism and transnational crime, cultural cooperation and tourism.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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