Building Right Links: BIMSTEC Ambassadors' Panel
The year 2018 marks the 21st anniversary of establishment of BIMSTEC as a regional grouping. In this timeframe, this regional grouping has come a very long way. After three summits in 20 years, the announcement of the much awaited fourth BIMSTEC Summit to be held on 30-31 August in Kathmandu, Nepal, created much excitement in economic and policy circles.
As a precursor to the summit, FICCI organised an Ambassadors’ Panel discussion at the Federation House on the 20 August 2018 to discuss the expectations, challenges and opportunities from the forthcoming BIMSTEC Summit.
Piyush Srivastava, JS (BIMSTEC & SAARC) MEA, emphasized how BIMSTEC bolsters closer cooperation among like-minded countries with a common commitment for prosperity. Security, development, food and energy self-sufficiency, connectivity and environment conservations are major governance priorities where BIMSTEC member states have convergence. The common objectives of economic growth and development in the region, connectivity, trade and investments are crucial elements of the BIMSTEC framework.
Vision statements by Heads of BIMSTEC Missions in India for an 'An Integrated Neighbourhood: Peace, Prosperity and Progress through BIMSTEC' were delivered.
Syed Muazzem Ali, High Commissioner, Bangladesh High Commission, said that progress in the past has often been slow and cautious. However, he expressed satisfaction that groundwork has made tangible progress in connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia. The challenge is how to hasten the process of inter-regional cooperation in the era of globalisation.
Chitranganee Wagiswara, High Commissioner, Sri Lankan High Commission, emphasized that BIMSTEC FTA (Free Trade Agreement) is still being negotiated even after many years after the framework agreement was concluded. She also mentioned that Bay of Bengal although being the largest Bay in the world is still the least integrated region in the world.
While, Moe Kyaw Aung, Ambassador, Embassy of Myanmar, mentioned that people to people linkages should be improved.
Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Ambassador, Embassy of Thailand, spoke about how to build Brand BIMSTEC and to learn lessons from APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and other groupings. He emphasized that the FTA and trade facilitation was of utmost importance. He also highlighted sustainability as a key aspect for all nations to be conscious of during the process of achieving economic development.
Jambay Yeshi, Economic Counsellor, Embassy of Bhutan, spoke about the commitment of the Government of Bhutan, for this regional cooperation initiative. He mentioned that there was a need for educating public about the benefits of intra-regional connectivity while at the same time protecting the environment and ensuring that initiatives are sustainable.
Syed Muazzem Ali, High Commissioner, Bangladesh High Commission, addressing the BIMSTEC Ambassadors' Panel.