Context: In an address at a virtual meeting of the regional grouping, external affair minister mentioned that the BIMSTEC convention on cooperation in combating international terrorism, transnational organised crime and illicit drug trafficking has come into force last month.
Other key highlights:
- India will ensure cooperation for building the momentum of regional cooperation under the framework of BIMSTEC and to make it a stronger, vibrant and result-oriented grouping.
- Member states have finalised the ‘BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity’ which is expected to be adopted at the fifth BIMSTEC summit. It would grant better connectivity and integration in the region.
- Besides India, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
- India has been making concerted efforts to make BIMSTEC a vibrant forum for regional cooperation as initiatives under SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) were not moving forward for a variety of reasons.
- A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation, also referred to as the mini SAARC.
- The BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement (BFTAFA) has been signed by all member nations to stimulate trade and investment in the parties, and attract outsiders to trade with and invest in the BIMSTEC countries at a higher level.