India to provide USD 1 M for BIMSTEC Secretariat – Modi

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By Rajiesh Seetharam

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the fifth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit held in Colombo, via video conferencing, stated that India would provide USD 1 million to increase the operational budget of BIMSTEC Secretariat. The BIMSTEC Secretariat is located in Dhaka.

The Indian PM made a strong pitch to move forward on the proposal for BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement, saying it is important to increase mutual trade among the countries of the region. Referring to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Modi said recent developments in Europe have raised a question mark over the stability of the international order and this has made regional cooperation more important. “The time has come for making the Bay of Bengal the bridge of connectivity, prosperity and security,” noted Modi. 

He further noted that it is time to establish a coastal shipping ecosystem in the Bay of Bengal. 

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is the lead country for trade and investment within BIMSTEC and urged upon the leaders to extend support to implement the BIMSTEC Framework Agreement on Free Trade Area (FTA) signed in 2004 for operation of tariff free trade among the member states.

She also said that multimodal transport connectivity is another vital component of BIMSTEC cooperation and her Government is committed to linking Bangladesh with the other countries in the Bay of Bengal region.

BIMSTEC is a regional alliance of nations around the Bay of Bengal, comprising India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan.