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Last updated: 20 Aug, 2018  

Bimstec.9.Thmb.jpg BIMSTEC countries call for free trade pact

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SME Times News Bureau | 20 Aug, 2018

Ahead of the 4th BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Kathmandu (Nepal) on August 30-31, 2018, Heads of Missions of BIMSTEC member countries on Monday underlined the need for conclusion of negotiations for a BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement and trade facilitation measures.

Speaking at a meeting today on 'Fourth BIMSTEC Summit: Expectations, Challenges and Opportunities', organised by FICCI, the  Heads of Missions expressed disappointment that 13 years after the framework agreement was finalised, FTA was still being negotiated. They felt that the time was ripe for BIMSTEC leaders to give unequivocal directives to facilitate  conclusion of FTA.

The panelists shared their vision for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) as a catalyst for regional economic development over the next twenty years. The BIMSTEC member nations are: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal.

The unanimous view of the BIMSTEC envoys was that out of the 14 identified priority sectors of cooperation, there was a need to focus on select areas such as connectivity, energy, trade, investment, climate change and counter-terrorism measures.

This, they said, would give visibility to the regional grouping and make it a meaningful platform for prosperity in the region.

The heads of BIMSTEC missions called for people-oriented decisions based on regional connectivity and economic integration.

Piyush Srivastava, Joint Secretary BIMSTEC & SAARC, Ministry of External Affairs, GoI expressed the hope that the Nepal Summit of BIMSTEC leaders would give a further impetus to people's expectation of bettering their lives in the region.

He laid stress on cooperation in the areas of security, disaster management, tourism, trade and public health.

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