Agartala: Emphasis on sub-regional multi modal connectivity at BIMSTEC Summit

Agartala: On commemoration of the 20th year of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the Indian Chamber of Commerce organized a summit at Agartala with the Ministry of External Affairs ( MEA).

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar inaugurated the one day ‘Integrating BIMSTEC Summit’ in the presence of dignitaries from various BIMSTEC countries.

The BIMSTEC is an international organisation involving a group of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia -Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Sarkar in his address stressed on resolving all pending issues related to tariff and non-tariff between India and Bangladesh to boost regional trade between both nations.

He said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit India early next month, adding India should use this as an opportunity to resolve all pending issues.

The main agenda discussed was regional integration of the region through new connectivity and reviving the multi-modal connectivity which once existed in the region but due to geo-political reasons had shut down.

During discussions, the speakers stressed on India’s Act East Policy and South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).

They viewed that India, Bangladesh and Myanmar occupy center stage in the effort to integrate the entire region for inter-related growth dynamics through cooperation in various fields.

The forum discussed on project based partnership that aims to promote regional prosperity, improved economic opportunities, boosting intra-regional trade and build a better quality of life for the people of the sub-region.

Prashant Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, said, “BIMSTEC is a very unique grouping because several of our key policy objectives which are Our Neighborhood First Policy, our Act East Policy and also a policy to promote development in the Northeast. Through BIMSTEC our overlying objective is to achieve these policies.”

He added, “In BIMSTEC, the role of Tripura and other north-eastern states will be vital as we have borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan and a maritime border with Thailand as well so connectivity in various forms is planned to be enhanced under BIMSTEC.”

Agarwal informed that 14 priority areas have been identified under BIMSTEC, adding transport and communication is one area where India is on the lead.

“India is also on the lead in the sector of tourism. We are in the process of working on a BIMSTEC motor vehicle agreement for seamless movement of goods and transports across BIMSTEC. We are also working out on shipping agreement across the BIMSTEC states and arrangement for grid interconnection to trade electricity and in Tripura you have power being exported to Bangladesh,” he said.

Meantime, Dr K Yhome, Observer Research Foundation ( ORF) fellow on Neighouring Regional Studies Initiative, said: “This sub-region is actually at the crossroad of three major markets. South Asia in one hand, South East Asia on the other and China in the north or let’s say the East Asia market. Therefore, if the Northeast (India), Bangladesh and Myanmar could become a connectivity hub that connects these markets then we are going to see a different dynamics where logistical facilities are going to redefine, re-conceptualize regions and sub-regions.”

He added, “We are going to see how these emerging corridors are going to reshape our understanding and concept of region because the way they are building up connecting new places and new markets is building understanding of new regions itself.”

The forum also discussed on South Asia sub-regional economic cooperation to bring together Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka in project based partnership aimed towards promoting regional prosperity, improved economic opportunity and build a better quality of life for people of the sub-region. (ANI)