New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the 5th BIMSTEC summit on Wednesday (March 30), which is being held virtually. The summit is hosted by Sri Lanka, the current president of BIMSTEC.
In preparation for the Summit, BIMSTEC Senior Officials (SOM) meetings were held on March 28, followed by BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers (BMM) meetings on March 29. Leaders should also discuss setting up basic institutional structures and mechanisms for the group.
“The challenges related to the Covid pandemic and the uncertainties within the international system that all BIMSTEC members are facing, lend greater urgency to the goal of taking BIMSTEC’s technical and economic cooperation to the next level. This should be the main topic of deliberations by leaders at the summit,” the Foreign Office (MEA) said in a press release.
External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, who concluded a “productive and convivial” BIMSTEC Ministerial meeting on Monday, tweeted: “Thank you FM Prof GL Peiris for the excellent arrangements.”
Jaishankar attended the 18th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting in Colombo and stressed the grouping’s commitment to intensify and expand areas of cooperation, especially connectivity, energy and maritime links among member countries.
What is BIMSTEC?
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional multilateral organization composed of seven member states located in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unit. Members include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
Thanks to the Bangkok Declaration, this sub-regional organization came into existence on June 6, 1997. 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 at 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 in February 2004, Thailand, the name of the group was changed to ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), according to information available on the BIMSTEC’s official website.