Parami Roundtable has organized a discussion on Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) today at the Park Royal hotel in Yangon. The discussion,in which Mizzima is a media partner, celebrates 20 years of BIMSTEC. The speakers from BIMSTEC counties including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand discussed issues around opportunities and challenge of the regional cooperation.
BIMSTEC is a regional organization comprising those seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity. The sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. Initially, the economic bloc was formed with four Member States with the acronym ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). With the admission of Nepal and Bhutan at the 6th Ministerial Meeting (February 2004, Thailand), the name of the grouping was changed to ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC).
According to its website, the regional group constitutes a bridge between South and South East Asia and represents a reinforcement of relations among these countries. BIMSTEC has also established a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members. The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion economy. In the last five years, BIMSTEC Member States have been able to sustain an average 6.5% economic growth trajectory despite global financial meltdown.
The organisation’s objectives are:
To create an enabling environment for rapid economic development through identification and implementation of specific cooperation projects in the sectors of trade, investment and industry, technology, human recourse development, tourism, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure and transportation.
To accelerate the economic growth and social progress in the sub-region through joint endeavours in a spirit of equality and partnership.
To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, technical and scientific fields.
To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional and technical spheres.
To cooperate more effectively in joint efforts that are supportive of and complementary to national development plans of Member States which result in tangible benefits to the people in raising their living standards, including generating employment and improving transportation and communication infrastructure.
To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.
To cooperate in projects that can be dealt with most productively on a sub-regional basis and make best use of available synergies among BIMSTEC member countries.