17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting
Recently, the 17th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting was organized. This meeting was chaired by Sri Lanka. The full name of BIMSTEC is Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation. All seven member countries including Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar participated in this meeting.
- This sub-regional organization was formed in the year 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- Initially there were four member countries in its formation, and then it was abbreviated as ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
- After the inclusion of Myanmar after the year 1997, it was renamed as ‘BIMST-EC’.After Nepal and Bhutan joined it in the year 2004, the organization was renamed Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation.
- It is a regional multilateral organization, and its members located in the coastal and adjoining areas of the Bay of Bengal. In the year 1997, the group was formed in an effort to integrate the Bay of Bengal region.
- BIMSTEC is an international association of seven countries, mainly in South Asia and South East Asia. Originally the group included Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, later Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan also became its members.
- 5 countries of South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka
- 2 countries of South-East Asia – Myanmar and Thailand
- It also plays the role of a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Maldives, Afghanistan and Pakistan are not BIMSTEC member countries
- Its main objectives are to create an environment for rapid economic development, to accelerate social progress and to promote cooperation on matters of common interest in the region.
Significance of BIMSTEC for India:
- The BIMSTEC organization is home to about a fifth (22%) of the world’s total population, and their total gross domestic product is close to $ 2.7 trillion.
- The Bay of Bengal is rich in natural resources, which has not yet been exploited. Therefore, this region is very important to maintain the strength of India as the largest economy of the region.
- BIMSTEC, not only connects the people of South and Southeast Asia, but also interconnects the ecology of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. About one-fourth of the total goods traded in the world passes through the Bay of Bengal every year.
- In terms of India’s foreign policy, ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East’ also provide a natural platform to implement their priorities.
- From a strategic point of view, the Bay of Bengal, which is like a funnel for the Straits of Malacca, has emerged as a major theater for the increasingly influential China to maintain its access to the Indian Ocean.
Source – The Hindu