AEIR 2018

Cross-border Infrastructure

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity. This sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It constitutes seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand. 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).

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Priority areas of cooperation include: fisheries, trade and investment, technology, energy, transport and communication, and tourism.

The First Summit Meeting held in 2004 highlighted, among other milestones, the signing of a Framework Agreement for a BIMSTEC Free Trade Area, the launch of the Visit BIMSTEC Year 2004-2005, a year-long Plan of Action on tourism, and the establishment of the BIMSTEC Center in Bangkok.

The number of priority sectors increased from 6 to 13, after the 8th Ministerial Meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 18-19 December 2005. The additional priority sectors are: agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism and transnational crime, environment and natural disaster management, and people-to-people contact.

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Studies and Research

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