Friday, April 1, 2022

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the fifth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit which was virtually hosted by current chair Sri Lanka.

The summit’s theme was “Towards a resilient region, prosperous economies, healthy people”. In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Modi said that the summit could open a golden chapter in history. Modi announced that India would provide USD 1 million to the BIMSTEC secretariat to facilitate the enhancement of operational budget and USD 3 million for the development of the BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate which would play an important role in disaster management in the region.

Apart from these, an official BIMSTEC charter was signed by all the seven member states. Three major memorandums related to security, technology and diplomacy were also signed at the summit. The charter formalised the grouping into a proper regional organisation. A “Master Plan for Transport Connectivity” was also discussed by the leaders which would stimulate regional transportation and movement.

Modi stressed the further development of BIMSTEC and discussed maritime cooperation, disaster management, economic integration and security in his intervention. He also talked about mutual free trade among the member states. Citing the recent turmoil in Europe, he questioned international stability and called for greater regional cooperation in the region.

The BIMSTEC summit prioritises the usage of the Bay of Bengal for as a “bridge of connectivity, prosperity and security”. At the conclusion of the summit, Sri Lanka handed over the chairmanship to Thailand for the next BIMSTEC summit. The other members states are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.

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