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The 4th Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit concluded on Friday with the member states approving an 18-point Kathmandu Declaration.

The heads of state and government of the seven member states reaffirmed strong commitment to making BIMSTEC a dynamic, effective and result-oriented regional organisation for promoting a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal Region through meaningful cooperation and deeper integration

The declaration mainly focus on the following:

  • Recognizing that eradication of poverty is the greatest regional challenge in realization of development objectives and expressing firm commitment to working together for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development;
  • Underlining the importance of multidimensional connectivity, which promotes synergy among connectivity frameworks in our region, as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity;
  • Taking into consideration the importance of trade and investment as one of the major contributing factors for fostering economic and social development in the region.
  • Recognizing the special needs and circumstances of the least developed and land-locked developing countries in the region and underlining the necessity to provide meaningful support to their development process;
  • Recognizing that terrorism and transnational organized crimes continue to pose a great threat to international peace and security including in the BIMSTEC countries and stressing that combating terrorism and transnational organized crimes require sustained efforts and cooperation and comprehensive approach involving active participation and collaboration of the Member States;

The unanimously adopted declaration said the “fight against terrorism should target not only terrorists, terror organisations and networks but also identify and hold accountable states and non-state entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and terror groups and falsely extol their virtues.”

  • Stressing the need for a fair, just, rule-based, equitable and transparent international order and reaffirming faith in the multilateralism with the United Nations at the centre and the rule-based international trading system;

Underscoring the importance of robust institutional arrangements to effectively steering the process of regional cooperation under BIMSTEC;

The declaration includes cooperation in other areas such as agricultural technology exchange, fight against terrorism, gradual reduction of the impact of climate change, increase trade and investment, and ease the visa processing for the people of BIMSTEC member states.

  • An MoU was signed on establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection. “The MoU provides for optimisation of using energy resources in the region & promotion of efficient & secure operation of power system

The summit agreed to expedite the conclusion of Bimstec Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and called upon the member states for its early ratification. It also expressed satisfaction that many member states have ratified the Bimstec Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.

Besides, the summit agreed to establish seamless multi-modal transportation linkages and smooth, synchronised and simplified transit facilities through the development, expansion and modernisation of highways, railways, waterways, sea routes and airways in the region.

It was also decided to speed up the efforts to conclude the Bimstec Coastal Shipping Agreement and the Bimstec Motor Vehicle Agreement as early as possible taking into account the special circumstances and needs of the member states.

Additionally, the grouping decided for an early conclusion of Bimstec Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations, and directed the Bimstec Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting and its subsidiary bodies, including the Trade Negotiating Committee, to expedite finalisation of all related agreements of the Bimstec FTA as early as possible.

The summit also called for exploring the possibility of establishing a Bimstec development fund with voluntary contributions from the member states. The fund would be utilised for research and planning of Bimstec and financing of projects, and other activities of the regional organisation, according to the Kathmandu Declaration.

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