BIMSTEC

BIMSTEC

News: The Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping’s fifth summit took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
• The summit saw the declaration of the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity that would provide a framework for regional and domestic connectivity.

Highlights of the Summit:
• Signing of the BIMSTEC charter was main outcome of the summit where members are expected to meet once every two years.
• The summit saw the declaration of the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity that would provide a framework for regional and domestic connectivity.
• Member countries also signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters.
• The leaders of the member-countries have agreed to divide the working of the grouping into seven segments, with India providing leadership to the security pillar.

Way Forward:
BIMSTEC paves way for regional integration and to a certain extent is looked upon as an alternative to SAARC.
BIMSTEC countries had supported India’s call for a boycott of the SAARC summit schedules in Islamabad in 2016.
The recent summit is a step towards the right direction, however much needs to be done to realise its true potential. A need for finalisation of BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement among countries can be useful as it will act as bridge of connectivity, prosperity. Also, there is necessity for evolving a coastal shipping ecosystem and electricity grid connectivity.  

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