BIMSTEC: Bridge to South Asia and South East Asia

Bhisma Raj Ojha

Kathmandu, July 12.  Experts on foreign affairs have said the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) needs to be established as an effective bridge between South Asia and South East Asia.

BIMSTEC established 20 years back had identified 14 areas of cooperation and has been contributing to the holistic development of the member states. Nepal joined the Initiative in 2004. Comprising some 21 per cent of the world population, BIMSTEC set up its secretariat in Bangladesh in 2014.

Nepal, a landlocked country, can taken huge benefit with trade and transit with other member states of the BIMSTEC, said foreign affairs expert Dr Dinesh Bhattarai, adding that such regional organization can be helpful in exchanging development cooperation as well.

Trade and investment, transport and communication, energy, tourism, fishery, agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter terrorism, environment and disaster management, expansion of people-to-people relations, cooperation on climate change issues, and fight against international crime are the areas identified for cooperation among the member states.

Nepal is hosting 4th BIMSTEC Summit and its preceding meeting in Kathmandu from 28 to 31 August.

Joint Spokesperson at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ram Babu Dhakal, shared that the government had expedited the preparation for the forthcoming BIMSTEC Summit.
Dr Bhes Bahadur Thapa, who had attended the first BIMSTEC Summit in Thailand as the Foreign Minister, observed that the concern over BIMSTEC is shown when the SAARC witnesses slackness.

According to him, BIMSTEC was established to bridge south Asia and south east Asia. As the south east Asia is better developed, the SAARC region should reap benefit from them, he added.

For the preparation of the event, a national main organizing committee has been formed under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. Similarly, the Foreign Minister is to coordinate the event preparation, Finance Minister to coordinate budget management, Home Minister to coordinate security, and Minister for Communications and Information Technology to coordinate publicity, according to Joint Spokesperson Dhakal.

In this connection, another foreign affairs expert Dr Rajan Bhattarai opined that the relevance of regional organization like BIMSTEC was growing because the prosperity and development could not be propelled on a single country initiative in this age of globalized and interconnected age. RSS