- Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It mainly aims to create an enabling environment for rapid economic development; accelerate social progress; and promote collaboration on matters of common interest in the Bay of Bengal Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand are its member states. Its Secretariat is seated in Dhaka. Nepal joined BIMSTEC on 8 February 2004.
- BIMSTEC has 14 priority areas of cooperation, namely (i) Trade and Investment (ii) Technology (iii) Energy (iv) Transportation and Communication (v) Tourism (vi) Fisheries (vii) Agriculture (viii) Cultural Cooperation (ix) Environment and Disaster Management (x) Public Health (xi) People-to-People Contact (xii) Poverty Alleviation (xiii) Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime and (xiv) Climate Change.
- BIMSTEC Summit is the highest policymaking body in BIMSTEC process and is comprised of heads of state/government of Member States. The Sixth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held in Thailand in 2004 decided to hold the Summit every two years as far as possible. So far, four Summits have been held in 2004, 2008, 2014 and 2018 respectively.
The Fourth BIMSTEC Summit was held in Kathmandu on 30-31 August 2018. The Summit was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli. The Summit was attended by the Heads of State (Myanmar and Sri Lanka) and the Heads of Government (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Thailand) of the BIMSTEC member states. The Summit deliberated on the existing status of cooperation under BIMSTEC and took number of decisions to gear up the regional process. The Summit was held under the theme “Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region”. With the conclusion of the Summit, the Chairmanship of BIMSTEC was handed over to Sri Lanka.
The Summit realized that eradication of poverty as the greatest regional challenge to development of the region and expressed commitment to work together for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; emphasized on multi-dimensional connectivity, trade and investment as the key enablers to economic integration and major contributing factor for economic and social development; recognized special needs and circumstances of the least developed and land-locked developing countries in the region and underlined the necessity to provide meaningful support to their development process.
The Summit expressed commitment to making BIMSTEC a dynamic, more effective and result-oriented organization. The summit also decided to establish a BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee (BPWC) to deal with administrative and financial matters of the Secretariat, BIMSTEC Centres/ Entities and any other issues related to the organization; to task the BIMSTEC Secretariat to prepare a preliminary draft of the Charter for the organization defining a long-term vision and priorities for cooperation; to task the Secretariat to develop the Rules of Procedure (RoP) for the BIMSTEC Mechanisms; to explore the possibility of establishing a BIMSTEC Development Fund (BDF) and to enhance the institutional capacity of the BIMSTEC Secretariat including increasing the numbers of Directors to seven, one from each Member State, in a staggered manner.
The Summit decided to establish a Working Group on information and communications technology to provide more affordable and high-speed internet and mobile access to the peoples of the region. An Inter-governmental Expert Group was also set up to develop plan of action to improve preparedness and coordination for responding to natural disasters. Likewise, an Inter-governmental Expert Group to develop an action plan on Mountain economy and another Inter-governmental Expert Group to develop an action plan on blue economy were decided to be formed keeping in mind the special needs and circumstances of the landlocked Member States. In the same way, the Summit also decided to constitute an Inter-governmental group of experts to enhance energy cooperation including in hydro-power and other sources of renewable energy; agreed to assign the Expert Group on BIMSTEC Visa Matters to continue negotiation for finalization of the modalities for the BIMSTEC Visa Facilitation; to explore how the landlocked Member States can benefit from inland fisheries and to explore possibility of establishing appropriate BIMSTEC forums for parliamentarians, universities, academia, research institutes, cultural organizations and media community to expand the scope of people-to-people contacts.
The Summit welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection and called for an early establishment of BIMSTEC Grid and operationalization of the BIMSTEC Energy Centre to strengthen energy cooperation in the region.
The Summit agreed to take concrete steps to promote intra-BIMSTEC tourism; to assign relevant authorities to devise tourism strategies, and agreed to take concrete measures to facilitate tourism by ensuring safety and security of tourists, and smooth transport connectivity; to developing and promoting Buddhist Tourist Circuit, Temple Tourist Circuit, ancient cities trail, eco-tourism and medical tourism; and welcomed the offer of Nepal to host a BIMSTEC tourism conclave in Nepal in 2020 coinciding with the Visit Nepal Year 2020.
The Summit reviewed the progress under each area of cooperation and emphasized the need to review, restructure and rationalize the existing areas of cooperation and streamline the activities by the BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee.
Ministerial Meeting (MM) is the second apex policy-making forum of BIMSTEC attended by the External/Foreign Ministers of Member States. The sixteenth Ministerial Meeting was held in Kathmandu on 29 August 2018 prior to the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit.
The Meeting considered and approved the Reports of the Special Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (S-SOM) and Nineteenth Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) held in Kathmandu on 11 August 2018 and 28 August 2018 respectively, endorsed the draft Fourth BIMSTEC Summit Declaration and recommended it to the Summit for approval, expressed their readiness to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection. The meeting also reviewed BIMSTEC’s progress in the priority areas of cooperation and expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in the past years and resolved to take necessary steps to focus on the activities of the organization by restructuring and streamlining the areas of cooperation.
- Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) precedes the Ministerial Meeting and is represented by the Senior Officials of the Foreign/External Ministries of the Member States. The SOM helps the Ministerial Meeting in monitoring and providing overall direction to the BIMSTEC activities. The SOM reports to the Ministerial Meeting. Till the date, nineteen regular SOMs have been held so far. Nepal as the chair convened Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Session of SOM in Kathmandu in February and August 2017 and August 2018 respectively. A Special Session of Senior Officials’ Meeting (S-SOM) was held in Kathmandu on 11 August 2018 prior to SOM to support the preparation of the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit. Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) is also divided into the area of Foreign Affairs (SOM) and the area of Trade and Economic Affairs (Senior Trade/Economic Officials’ Meeting – STEOM) which are headed by the Senior Officials of foreign affairs, and trade and economic affairs respectively.
- Business Forum and Economic Forum are the two important fora under the STEOM that ensure active participation of the private sector. In Business Forum, private sector representatives from BIMSTEC Member States meet and discuss various issues. The outcome from the Business Forum is presented to the Economic Forum where the private sectors have an opportunity to discuss freely with representatives from the public sector of the Member States. The Economic Forum reports the outcomes of its meetings to the STEOM. The Seventh Meeting of the BIMSTEC Business Forum was held in New Delhi on 21 July 2016.
- High incidence of poverty is a major challenge in the BIMSTEC region. Poverty alleviation has received high priority in BIMSTEC. Three Sectoral Ministerial Meetings have been held so far in this area. Nepal as a lead country for this sector prepared the BIMSTEC Poverty Plan of Action (PPA) which was endorsed by the Second Ministerial Meeting held in Kathmandu in 2012. The BIMSTEC PPA aims to identify and implement collective actions for poverty alleviation in BIMSTEC Member States through sharing of best practices and identification of common areas of intervention for poverty alleviation.
The First Expert Group Meeting on Poverty Alleviation held on 1st November 2017 in Nepal reviewed the BIMSTEC PPA and updated the socio-economic indicators of BIMSTEC Member States.
The Third Ministerial Meeting on Poverty Alleviation held in Sri Lanka on 20 December 2017 adopted the Colombo Statement on Poverty Alleviation and the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to implement the BIMSTEC PPA by aligning it with national plans and programs.
Reaffirming poverty as the main challenge being faced by the BIMSTEC Member States, the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit reiterated commitment to the eradication of poverty in the Bay of Bengal Region by 2030 in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and call for effective implementation of the BIMSTEC Poverty Plan of Action and for gearing up efforts of all sectors to contribute to the over-arching goal of poverty alleviation.
- With high prospects of intra-regional trade in the region, trade and investment constitutes a priority sector ever since the genesis of BIMSTEC. The framework agreement for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was agreed upon in 2004 with the objective of (i) strengthening and enhancing economic, trade and investment cooperation among the Parties; (ii) progressive liberalization and promotion of trade in goods and services, creating a transparent, liberal and facilitative investment regime; (iii) exploring new areas and developing appropriate measures for closer cooperation among the Parties; and (iv) facilitating the more effective economic integration of the least developed countries in the region, and bridging the development gap among the parties.
- Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) was established as an institutional arrangement to conduct the negotiations as set out in the BISMTEC FTA. The TNC is currently engaged in the negotiations to conclude the following Constituent Agreements/Protocols which would form integral part of the BIMSTEC FTA:
- Agreement on Trade in Goods of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC FTA;
- Agreement on Trade in Services of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC FTA;
- Agreement on Investment of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC FTA;
- Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters for the BIMSTEC FTA;
- Agreement on Rules of Origin and Operational Certification Procedures for the BIMSTEC FTA;
- Agreement on Trade Facilitation for the BIMSTEC FTA;
- Protocol to amend the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC FTA.
Twenty-First Meeting of the TNC and respective working groups was held on 18-19 November 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The meeting considered the reports of six Working Groups formed under TNC. The Meeting took note of the progress made on the Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters for BIMSTEC Free Trade Area at the Working Group Meeting held in New Delhi, India on 10-11 May 2018. The Meeting recommended to submit the text to the of Fifth BIMSTEC Senior Trade and Economic Officials’ Meeting (STEOM) and the Sixth BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministers’ Meeting (TEMM) for necessary approval. Meeting also updated some of the articles of Second Protocol to amend the Framework Agreement on BIMSTEC Free Trade Area. The First Meeting of the Working Group on Trade Facilitation negotiated the draft text of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation for the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC FTA. The Meeting unanimously decided to change the nomenclature of the Agreement as “Agreement on Trade Facilitation for the BIMSTEC FTA.” The Government of Bangladesh will announce the tentative time-frame of Fifth BIMSTEC Senior Trade and Economic Officials’ Meeting (STEOM) and the Sixth BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministers’ Meeting (TEMM) in due course. Twenty Second Meeting of TNC is supposed to be held in Bhutan after the Member States send their schedule of concessions under the BIMSTEC Agreement on Trade in Goods.Motor Vehicles Agreement for the regulation of passenger and cargo vehicular traffic between and among BIMSTEC member countries and Agreement on Coastal Shipping among BIMSTEC Member States are also under consideration. Early conclusion of these agreements is expected to promote and facilitate intra-regional trade and will be beneficial for trade for the landlocked country like Nepal.
- Technology is an important area of cooperation under BIMSTEC. The Memorandum of Association (MoA) on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Sri Lanka is at final stage. The main objectives of TTF shall be to coordinate, facilitate and strengthen cooperation in technology transfer among the BIMSTEC Member States by promoting the transfer of technologies, sharing of experiences and capacity building.
- Energy cooperation has featured prominently among the agenda of BIMSTEC. The region has huge hydro-power potential and also the potentials for renewable and sustainable energy sources. So far, two ministerial meetings and four Senior Officials’ Meetings have been held in this area. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) for Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection has been signed at the fourth BIMSTEC Summit held in Kathmandu in 2018. The MoU envisages the establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection Coordination Committee (BGICC) to undertake the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection Master Plan Study. The MoU will open up avenues for energy trade in the region. Operationalization of BIMSTEC Energy Centre in India will also advance energy cooperation agenda including the sharing of experiences and best practices as well as capacity-building of the Member States in this sector.
- Transport connectivity is a key to bring economic dynamism in the BIMSTEC region. BIMSTEC Transport, Infrastructure and Logistics Study (BTILS) was conducted with the support of Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Study identified 167 projects to enhance connectivity in the region at an estimated cost of US $ 45-50 billion. Out of 167 projects, the study prioritized 66 projects. Nepal’s six priority projects incorporated in the Study are (i) Connection road between integrated check post (ICP) and inland clearance depot (ICD) bypass at Birgunj (ii) Kathmandu–Terai Fast Track Road (iii) Nijgadh–Pathalaiya–Raxaul road upgradation (iv) Five new rail connections with India (v) Major Development of Kathmandu Airport, and (vi) Integrated check post at Birgunj. BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Working Group (BTCWG) coordinates the development of transport connectivity in the region. The Second BTCWG meeting held in Bangkok in November 2017 finalized the draft concept paper on Master Plan on Transport Connectivity for the BIMSTEC region. ADB has provided technical assistance to draft the Master Plan for the consideration of the BTCWG. First and Second draft of BIMSTEC Master Plan on Connectivity has been circulated among Member States for their comments/suggestions/inputs. ADB organized Workshop on BIMSTEC Master Plan on Transport Connectivity in Bangkok, Thailand on 17-18 September 2018 to give final shape to the Master Plan. Final report on it is expected to be submitted soon.
- Tourism has huge potential in the BIMSTEC region. Natural beauty and cultural richness of the region can attract millions of tourists from within and beyond the region. Two Roundtable and Workshop of Tourism Ministers have been held so far. The First Roundtable and Workshop of Tourism Ministers held in Kolkata in February 2005 adopted the “Plan of Action for Tourism Development and Promotion for the BIMSTEC Region”. The Plan of Action included setting up of BIMSTEC Tourism Information Center and BIMSTEC Tourism Fund. Accordingly, BIMSTEC Tourism Information Centre has been established in New Delhi, India. The Second BIMSTEC Tourism Ministers’ Roundtable and Workshop held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 29 August 2006 agreed to establish a BIMSTEC Tourism Working Group (BTWG) to follow up the progress on the Plan of Action. The First Meeting of BTWG held in India in 2013 decided to set up the Tourism Fund with one-time contribution of US$ 10,000 by each Member State in order to support activities approved by the BTWG. The BIMSTEC Tourism Fund is being administered by the BIMSTEC Information Centre. The Seventeenth BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) held in Kathmandu in 2017 agreed to create a Network of Tour Operators among the BIMSTEC Member States so as to promote tourism in the region, including, through Buddhist Tourist Circuit and luxury cruise. First Meeting of the BIMSTEC Network of Tour Operators held in New Delhi in 2017 recommended working out a common marketing strategy such as creation of a BIMSTEC brand for tourism; developing a common website for promotion; holding annual BIMSTEC Travel Mart/Conclave; developing and sharing common safety protocols for adventure tourism; enhancing public-private partnership for promotion of tourism in BIMSTEC; and holding BIMSTEC Annual Convention on Tourism.
- In context of existing social diversities, shared cultural heritage and rich languages, arts, crafts and traditions in the region, cultural cooperation has become an integral part of BIMSTEC cooperation. The Ministerial Meeting on Cultural Cooperation held in Bhutan in May 2006 adopted Concept Paper on Cultural Industries. The Memorandum of Association (MoA) on the establishment of BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory (BCIO) and BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Commission (BCIC) was signed in 2014 and both mechanisms are being established in Bhutan. BIMSTEC Film Festival was also organized in Dhaka in July 2017. Two Nepali Films: ‘Dying Candle’ and ‘Kalo Pothi’ were screened in the event. Bodhi Parva: BIMSTEC Festival of Buddhist Heritage was organized in India on 9-10 December 2017 to mark the Twentieth anniversary of BIMSTEC. The importance of Lumbini as the Fountain of World Peace and a hub for Buddhist culture and tradition was also stressed on the occasion. The second Cultural Ministerial Meeting is supposed to be held in Dhaka in September 2019.
- BIMSTEC has been advancing cooperation in the Fisheries sector. Draft concept paper on BIMSTEC cooperation in fisheries is under consideration. The concept paper has identified global and regional issues such as combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, joint activities in fisheries among the Member States, combating climate change effects to fisheries, research in inland/coastal aquaculture and capacity building. Many collaborative activities have also been conducted in this sector such as Meeting of Sectoral Committee on Fisheries in 2001, Expert Meeting in 2004, Workshop on Fisheries Cooperation in 2007, a survey project entitled Ecosystem Based Fishery Management in Bay of Bengal in 2007, and BIMSTEC Fisheries Meeting in 2009. Freshwater fishery production and management remains a matter of interest for Members States including Nepal.
- Agriculture largely constitutes the mainstay of BIMSTEC economies and the livelihood of its people. Cooperation on sustainable agriculture and food security is beneficial to all Member States. Intensified cooperative efforts have already in effect to increase productivity and yields of agricultural product in the region. Six Expert Group Meetings on Agriculture have been held so far. The Third BIMSTEC Expert Group Meeting on Agricultural Cooperation held in Kandy, Sri Lanka identified the Nine (9) Common Projects for implementation under this sector. Considering growing demand for pork meat in Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Nepal organized a Workshop on Strengthening Regional Value Chain in Pork Meat Marketing on 13-14 June 2018. Draft concept papers have been prepared on (i) Encouraging private sector participation especially in value-chain management for agricultural products, (ii) Workshop on Food Standard and Food Safety and other related matter (iii) Food Security Information System and its Networks, (iv) Workshop on Promotion of Agriculture Trade and Investment among BIMSTEC Member States (v) South-South East Asian Diagnosis Network for Ensuring Bio-Security and Bio-Safety (vi) Human Resources Development in Agriculture (vii) Workshop on Food Standard and Food Safety and other related matter. Regional cooperation in these identified areas is expected to contribute to strengthening agricultural productivity and food security in the region.
- The region is vulnerable to natural calamities such as floods, earthquakes and cyclones that cause heavy damages to human lives and property in the region. It is essential to enhance cooperation in the field of Environment and Natural Disaster Management. Eighth Ministerial Meeting held in Dhaka in 2006, incorporated environment and disaster management as one of the areas of regional cooperation. BIMSTEC Centre on Weather and Climate has been established in India and the Memorandum of Association was signed in Third BIMSTEC Summit held in Myanmar in 2014. The Centre has been functioning from the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida, Uttar Pradesh of India. The Centre works in scientific research in weather prediction and climate modeling, capacity building of member states and publication of research works in these areas. Action agenda of BIMSTEC Leaders Retreat underlined closer cooperation in disaster management through joint exercises, sharing of information including early warning system, adoption of preventive measures, joint action on relief and rehabilitation, and capacity building. The First BIMSTEC Annual Disaster Management Exercise was held in New Delhi, India on 10-13 October 2017. The Exercise consisted of three components, i.e., Table Top Exercise (TTX), Field Training Exercises (FTXs) on Earthquake and Flood and After Action Review (AAR). Nepal actively participated in the exercise and shared its experiences on crisis management in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake and frequently occurring floods in Nepal.
- BIMSTEC region is equally vulnerable to the adverse impact of Climate Change. The melting of Himalayan Glaciers, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFS) and the occurrence of Floods and Landslides in the plains and hills and the rise in sea level are not only posing threat to our sustainable development efforts but also to our lives and property. It is a high priority area of cooperation in BIMSTEC. A Concept Paper has been drafted to establish a framework of cooperation on climate change. Cooperation on climate change at regional level will complement efforts to implement SDGs and Paris Agreement on Climate Change at national level.
- Public health continues to feature in the priority agenda of BIMSTEC cooperation as it directly affects the region’s economy and wellbeing of its people. The first “BIMSTEC Network of National Center of Coordination in Traditional Medicine: Traditional Medicine Development” was held in Bangkok on 29-30 August 2006. Recognizing the importance of traditional medicine in the region, BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine has been set up. The first meeting of the task force was held in New Delhi, India on 24-25 October 2017. Draft concept paper on the Priority Areas for Technical and Research Collaboration among the BIMSTEC Member States on Traditional Medicine has been prepared by Sri Lanka and is under consideration of Member States. Similarly, Draft Base Paper on Protection of Genetic Resources (GR) associated with Traditional Medicine Knowledge (TMK) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for BIMSTEC has been prepared by India and under consideration of Member States. Thailand organized BIMSTEC Conference on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources on 21-22 May 2018 in Bangkok. In the conference Member States presented the current country situation and Measures to protect Genetic Resources (GR) and Associated Traditional Knowledge (TK). Conference also brainstormed about possibility of formulation of Regional Strategy, Action Plan of Collaborative Activities on the Protection of GR and Associated TK. Second BIMSTEC Conference on Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources is being organized in Myanmar on 24-25 January 2018.
Proper utilization of Nepal’s rich Biodiversity, Medicinal Plants, Genetic Resources, and Traditional and Indigenous medicine knowledge will be beneficial both to Nepal and to the region as a whole.
Terrorism and Transnational Crimes continue to remain a key threat to peace and stability in the BIMSTEC region. BIMSTEC Member States have expressed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Concrete measures have been undertaken to step up cooperation and coordination among law enforcement, intelligence and security organizations in this regard. A Joint Working Group(JWG) is constituted to consolidate efforts in this area. Six Sub Groups under JWG are also formed viz. Sub-Group on (i) Intelligence Sharing, (ii) Human Trafficking and Illegal migration (iii) Legal and Law Enforcement Issues (iv) Anti- Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (v) Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substance and Precursor Chemicals and (vi) Cooperation on Countering Radicalization and Terrorism, which are meeting regularly to discuss frameworks of cooperation in their respective fields. All Member States but Bhutan have deposited an instrument of ratification of Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking. BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters is under consideration. Nepal has expressed its readiness to sign the convention. Early conclusion of these agreements will help the Member States develop combined capacity building in tackling terrorism and transnational crime. The Eighth meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime in Dhaka Bangladesh on 13-14 August 2018 held further discussions in this matter. The Eighth Meeting of sub-group on Legal and Law Enforcement issues was held in Kathmandu on 29-30 October 2018. The Meeting initiated and held extensive negotiation on BIMSTEC Convention against Trafficking in Persons. Similarly, Tenth Meeting of sub-group on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism was held in Kathmandu on 19-20 November 2018. Member States presented “sanitized version of the National Risk Assessment Report” of their countries and also shared case studies in the related sector. The Meeting also had had discussions on Capacity development and Exchange of Financial Intelligence. Fifth Meeting of the BIMSTEC Sub-Group on Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals was also held in Nepal on 23 May 2018 which contributed to advancing cooperation in related matters. The Second Meeting of the National Security Chiefs of the BIMSTEC Member States held on 28 March 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh decided to deepen security cooperation in the region and to take concrete measures to enhance cooperation and coordination among their law enforcement, intelligence and security organizations and enhance capacity building.
- People-to-people contact is a crucial area of regional importance. The Second BIMSTEC Summit, BIMSTEC decided to form Networks of Policy Think Tank (BNPTT) has been established as a track-II BIMSTEC initiative in order to foster and enhance cooperation and interactions among the Member States. BNPTT consists of seven leading policy think tanks, one from each Member States nominated by the respective Governments. Centre for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA), Tribhuvan University acts as the policy think tank of Nepal for BIMSTEC. Fourth Meeting of BNPTT has recently been organized on 27-28 December 2018 in Bhutan. The Meeting discussed on the priorities of the member states for BNPTT and its institutional development. The recommendation of the Second BNPTT Meeting held in Dhaka to establish BIMSTEC Eminent Persons Group (EPG) has been endorsed by the Seventeenth Senior Officials’ Meeting held in Kathmandu in February 2017. Accordingly, the Terms of Reference (ToR) on Eminent Persons Group (EPG) is under consideration of member states.
- Mountain economy: Fourth BIMSTEC Summit underscored necessity of making concrete efforts to ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their bio-diversity in order to support sustainable development; welcomed the concept note on promoting mountain economies in BIMSTEC countries developed by Nepal to promote cooperation in this area; and decide to establish an Inter-governmental Expert Group to develop an action plan on Mountain Economy.
- Blue Economy: Fourth BIMSTEC Summit emphasized the importance of blue economy and agreed to cooperate in this sector for the sustainable development in the region and decided to establish an Inter-governmental Expert Group to develop an action plan on blue economy, keeping in mind the special needs and circumstances of the landlocked Member States.
- BIMSTEC celebrated the Twentieth anniversary of its establishment of the organization in 2017. As part of the celebration, Member States organized various programs and events throughout the year in a befitting manner. On the occasion, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs separately conveyed their messages on 6 June 2017. The Institute of Foreign Affairs of Nepal also organized an Interaction Program entitled “BIMSTEC: The Way Forward”.
Regional Organizations Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs