The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018). The BIMSTEC member states—Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Nepal and Bhutan —are among the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal.
Fourteen priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors. A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation (c. 2018).
Leadership is rotated in alphabetical order of country names. The permanent secretariat is in Dhaka.
On 6 June 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). In 1998, Nepal became an observer. In February 2004, Nepal and Bhutan become full members.
On 31 July 2004, in the first Summit the grouping was renamed as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
Current Secretary General of BIMSTEC is Ambassador Mohammad Shahidul Islam from Bangladesh and former Secretary General was Sumith Nakandala from Srilanka.
BIMSTEC uses the alphabetical order for the Chairmanship. The Chairmanship of BIMSTEC has been taken in rotation commencing with Bangladesh (1997–1999).
|Countries||Leader Position||Head of government||Head of state||Population||GDP (Nominal)||WorldBank||SAARC|
|Bangladesh||Prime minister||Sheikh Hasina,Prime Minister of Bangladesh||Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh||162,951,560||$314 bn||✔||✔|
|Bhutan||Prime minister||Lotay Tshering,Prime Minister of Bhutan||Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan||797,765||$2.5 bn||✔||✔|
|India||Prime minister||Narendra Modi,Prime Minister of India||Ram Nath Kovind, President of India||1,324,171,354||$2700.0 bn||✔||✔|
|Myanmar||President||Win Myint, President of Myanmar||52,885,223||$68.277 bn||✔||✖|
|Nepal||Prime minister||Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal||Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal||28,982,771||$25.020 bn||✔||✔|
|Sri Lanka||President||Ranil Wickremesinghe,Prime Minister of Sri Lanka||Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka||20,798,492||$80.4 bn||✔||✔|
|Thailand||Prime minister||Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand||King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X),King of Thailand||68,863,514||$457.24 bn||✔||✖|
BIMSTEC priority sectors
14 priority areas have been identified with the lead nations appointed to lead the effort:
|Priority Area||Lead Country||Centre||Comments|
|Transport and communication||India|
|Tourism||India||BIMSTEC Tourism Information Centre, Delhi|
|Counterterrorism and transnational crime||India||Four subgroups: Intelligence sharing – Sri Lanka (lead),|
Terror financing – Thailand,
Legal – Myanmar,
Law enforcement and narcotics – Myanmar
|Environment and disaster management||India||BIMSTEC Weather and Climate Centre, NOIDA|
|Energy||India||BIMSTEC Energy Centre, Bengaluru||BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection MoU signed in 2014.|
|Public Health||Thailand||BIMSTEC Network of Traditional Medicine in India|
|Trade & Investment||Bangladesh|
|Cultural Cooperation||Bhutan||1200 ITEC scholarships by India|
BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement
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 BIMSTEC at a higher level. Subsequently, the “Trade Negotiating Committee” (TNC) was set up, with Thailand as the permanent chair, to negotiate in areas of trade in goods and services, investment, economic co-operation, trade facilitations and technical assistance for LDCs. Once negotiation on trade in goods is completed, the TNC would then proceed with negotiation on trade in services and investment.
BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement draft was discussed on 1 December 2017 at New Delhi, to facilitate coastal shipping within 20 nautical miles of the coastline in the region to boost trade between the member countries. Compared to the deep sea shipping, coastal ship require smaller vessels with lesser draft and involve lower costs. Once the agreement becomes operational after it is ratified, a lot of cargo movement between the member countries can be done through the cost effective, environment friendly and faster coastal shipping routes.
Cooperation with Asian Development Bank (ADB)
ADB become a partner in 2005, to undertake the “BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistic Study” (BTILS), which was completed in 2014.
|No.||Date||Host country||Host city|
|1st||31 July 2004||Thailand||Bangkok|
|2nd||13 November 2008||India||New Delhi|
|3rd||4 March 2014||Myanmar||Naypyidaw|
|4th||30, 31 August 2018||Nepal||Kathmandu|
- Road and rail Look-East connectivity projects
- Coast shipping
- Power grid inter-connection
- Regional disaster monitoring and warning system
Current leaders of BIMSTEC
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation
Bengali: বঙ্গোপসাগরীয বহুক্ষেত্রীয় প্রযুক্তিগত ও অর্থনৈতিক সহযোগীতা উদ্যোগ (বিম্সটেক্) Burmese: ဘင်္ဂလားပင်လယ်အော် စီးပွားရေးနှင့် နည်းပညာဆိုင်ရာ ဘက်စုံ ပူးပေါင်း ဆောင်ရွက်ရေး အဖွဲ့အစည်း (ဘင်းမ်စတက်) Hindi: बहुक्षेत्रीय तकनीकी और आर्थिक सहयोग के लिए बंगाल की खाड़ी पहल (बिम्सटेक) Nepali: बहुक्षेत्रीय प्राविधिक तथा आर्थिक सहयोगका लागि बङ्गालको खाडीको प्रयास (बिम्स्टेक) Sinhalese: බහු සංස්කෘතික සහ තාක්ෂණික සහයෝගීතාව සඳහා බෙංගාල බොක්ක (බිම්ස්ටෙක්) Tamil: பல துறை தொழில்நுட்ப மற்றும் பொருளாதார ஒத்துழைப்புக்கான வங்காள விரிகுடா முயற்சி Thai: ความริเริ่มแห่งอ่าวเบงกอลสำหรับความร่วมมือหลากหลายสาขาทางวิชาการและเศรษฐกิจ (บิมสเทค)Flag Secretariat Dhaka, Bangladesh Membership
- Sri Lanka
Leaders• Chairmanship Sri Lanka (since September 2018) Establishment 6 June 1997Website
- “Nepal unlikely to host fourth ‘Bimstec’ summit this year”. Business Standard India. 3 June 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- “BIMSTEC summit ends with Oli presenting Kathmandu declaration”. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
- BIMSTEC: Building bridges between South Asia & Southeast Asia, IndiaWrites, 2014.
- “Energy”. bimstec.org. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- Haidar, Suhasini (15 October 2016). “BIMSTEC a sunny prospect in BRICS summit at Goa”. The Hindu. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- “BRICS Summit 2016: BIMSTEC members have economic opportunities to share, said Narendra Modi”. The Economic Times. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- See for a detailed historical account of the founding and evolution of BIST-EC and BIMST-EC e.g. Michael, Arndt (2013). India’s Foreign Policy and Regional Multilateralism (Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 145–163.
- “Third BIMSTEC Summit Declaration”. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- BIMSTC sectors
- “India Cabinet Approves Signing of BIMSTEC Power Grid Pact | News | South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation”. www.sasec.asia. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- “Nepal to join BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection”. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistic Study
- “BIMSTEC Summit”. Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- “Nepal proposes dates for Bimstec Summit”. Business Standard India. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- “4th BIMSTEC Summit: Kathmandu Declaration adopted by Member States”. Retrieved 31 August 2018.