Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation [BIMSTEC]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 27, 2022, 6:37

BIMSTEC is an acronym for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. It was founded through the Bangkok Declaration on 6th June 1997 and is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The goal of forming BIMSTEC was to achieve shared and accelerated growth by cooperating in several areas of common interest, reducing the effects of globalisation, and leveraging regional resources and geographic advantages. A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is currently under process since 2018, occasionally known as the mini-SAARC.

Origin and Timeline of BIMSTEC

  • The Bangkok Declaration established BIMSTEC, a sub-regional organisation, on 6th June 1997.
  • 'BIST-EC' was the first abbreviation for the economic bloc, which was founded with Economic Cooperation from four member states (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand).
  • The Group was renamed 'BIMST-EC' after Myanmar was included on 22nd December 1997, during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok.
  • The organisation's name was modified to BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) after Nepal and Bhutan were included at the 6th Ministerial Meeting (February 2004, Thailand).
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) became a partner in the "BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistic Study" (BTILS) in 2005, and it was completed in 2014.
  • On 1st April 2021, the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting took place. Sri Lanka presided over the meeting, which was held virtually with the participation of all BIMSTEC member states.
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Features of BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC consists of seven countries: five from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) and two from Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Thailand).
  • BIMSTEC serves as a link between South and Southeast Asia, strengthening ties between the two regions.
  • BIMSTEC has also created a forum for SAARC and ASEAN countries to collaborate intra-regionally.
  • With a total gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion dollars, the BIMSTEC area is home to about 1.5 billion people or around 22% of the global population.
  • Despite the global financial crisis, BIMSTEC Member States have been able to maintain an average growth rate of 6.5 percent over the previous five years.
  • The Chairmanship at BIMSTEC is assigned in alphabetical order.
  • The BIMSTEC Chairmanship has been repositioned since 1997, starting with Bangladesh (1997–1999).
  • The BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat is based in Dhaka, according to the 13th Ministerial Meeting.
  • India is covering 32% of the Secretariat's costs, demonstrating its significant commitment to the BIMSTEC project.
  • The MoA for the Secretariat's formation was signed on 4th March 2014, and Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina officially launched it on 13th September 2014.
  • Ambassador Tenzin Lekphell of Bhutan is the current Secretary-General of the BIMSTEC, while Mr Shahidul Islam of Bangladesh was the previous Secretary-General of BIMSTEC.
  • Mr Sumith Nakandala of Sri Lanka served as the first Secretary-General of the BIMSTEC.

Principles of BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC collaboration is based on the values of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful coexistence, and mutual benefit.
  • Cooperation within BIMSTEC will complement, rather than replace, bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation among the Member States.

BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organisation, unlike many other regional groups. The purpose of building such an alliance was to achieve shared and accelerated growth by partnering in numerous areas of mutual interest, limiting globalisation's consequences, and utilising regional resources and geographic advantages.

In late 1997, BIMSTEC began with six sectors for sectoral cooperation, including trade, technology, energy, transportation, tourism, and fisheries, and in 2008, agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people-to-people contact, and climate change were included as new sectors.

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FAQs on BIMSTEC

Q1. What is the full form of BIMSTEC?

Ans. Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation is the full form of BIMSTEC.

Q2. When was BIMSTEC created?

Ans. BIMSTEC was created on 6th June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.

Q3. How many nations are part of BIMSTEC?

Ans. Seven nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand) are part of BIMSTEC.

Q4. When did Nepal and Bhutan join BIMSTEC?

Ans. Nepal and Bhutan joined BIMSTEC in 2004.