Second BIMSTEC Summit begins tomorrow
COLOMBO: The Second Summit of the Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-Sectoral
Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will be held tomorrow in
New Delhi, preceded by the 11st Session of the BIMSTEC Ministerial
Meeting and the 13th Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Official's Meeting.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will attend the Summit tomorrow with
other leaders of the seven-member regional grouping while foreign
Minister Rohitha Bogollagama will lead the Ministerial delegation from
Sri Lanka to the 11th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting today.
The Senior Officials' delegation will be led by Additional Foreign
Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam.
The Second BIMSTEC Summit, which comes after four years since the
first Summit was held in Bangkok, Thailand, is scheduled to finalise
several deliverables for the BIMSTEC region on Energy, Culture, Weather
and Climate and especially, Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime.
The Senior Officials' Meeting, which was be held yesterday was
scheduled to finalise and recommend to Ministerial and the Summit
Meetings the BIMSTEC Convention on Combating International Terrorism,
Transnational Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking to be
signed during the Summit. The Convention, once effective, will enhance
the cooperation in combating terrorism in the BIMSTEC region. The Senior
Officials' Meeting will also discuss the Memoranda of Association on the
establishment of the BIMSTEC Energy Centre, BIMSTEC Weather and Climate
Centre and the BIMSTEC Cultural Observatory.
The Senior Officials' Meeting will also discuss the draft Summit
declaration and finalize it for the consideration at the Ministerial
BIMSTEC was formed in Bangkok on June 6, 1997 as a new sub-regional
grouping named BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand
Economic Cooperation). Myanmar attended the inaugural June Meeting as an
observer and joined the organisation as a full member at a Special
Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok on December 22, 1997, upon which the
name of the grouping was changed to BIMST-EC.
Nepal was granted observer status by the second Ministerial Meeting
in Dhaka in December 1998. Subsequently, full membership has been
granted to Nepal and Bhutan in 2003. At the first Summit on July 31,
2004, leaders of the group agreed that the name of the grouping should
be known as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-Sectoral
Technical and Economic Cooperation.
BIMSTEC is a regional grouping that forms a viable economic sub
region with close economic and social linkages amongst the member
countries. It is currently engaged in promoting trade through the early
establishment of the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area, increasing cooperation in
identified areas such as agricultural products, industrial products and
Thirteen sectors of cooperation have been identified namely, Trade
and Investment, Transport and Communication, Technology, Energy,
Tourism, Fisheries, Agriculture, Public Health, Poverty Alleviation,
Protection of Biodiversty/ Environment and Natural Disaster Management,
Culture, Counter Terrorisms and Transnational Crime and People to People
As a founding member of the grouping, Sri Lanka has played a key role
in the history of BIMSTEC, Sri Lanka is the Lead Country of the
Technology Sector and Permanent Chair of the Trade Negotiating Committee
(TNC) which was set up with a view to finalizing the BIMSTEC Free Trade
Agreement under the Trade and Investment Sector.
BIMSTEC members have now agreed to set up an institutional structure
to promote cooperation more actively in the region. Sri Lanka has also
offered to host the BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat in Colombo.