Treaties

AGREEMENT OF BIMST-EC



BIMST-BACKGROUND


On 6 June 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok and given the name BIST - EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation). Myanmar attended the inaugural June Meeting as an observer and joined the organization as a full member at a Special Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok on 22 December 1997, upon which the name of the grouping was changed to BIMST-EC. Nepal was granted observer status by the second Ministerial Meeting in Dhaka in December 1998. Subsequently, full membership has been granted to Nepal and Bhutan in 2003. During the First Summit in Bangkok on 30-31 July 2004, the grouping's name was eventually changed to the 'Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation', or BIMSTEC.

BIMSTEC covers a population of approximately 1.3 billion and the trade value between Thailand and other countries in the group exceeded US$3 billion in 2003. The forum is unique as the only link between South Asia's Look East policy and Thailand's Look West policy, as well as a mechanism to promote opportunities for trade, investment and tourism between Thailand and South Asia.

BIMSTEC's objectives stretch from creation of economic and social prosperity based on equality, to enhancement of mutual benefits in economic, social and technological aspects. They also involve intra-regional assistance in the form of training, research and development as well as beneficial cooperation in the areas of agriculture, industry, expansion of trade and investment, improvement in communication and transport, for the purpose of improving living standards and cooperation with other international organizations.

BIMSTEC's 6 cooperation sectors are:

  1. Trade and investment led by Bangladesh, divided into 2 categories as follows:
    1. 1.1 Goods and services with the following 8 sub-sectors:
      • Gems and jewelry (Sri Lanka is the Lead Country)
      • Automotive industry and parts (Thailand)
      • Processed food (Sri Lanka)
      • Horticultural / floricultural products (Thailand)
      • Drugs / pharmaceuticals (India)
      • Rubber, tea, coffee (Thailand)
      • Textile and clothing (Bangladesh)
      • Coconut and spices (India)
    2. 1.2 Trade and investment facilitation with 7 sub-sectors:
      • Customs Procedures (Bangladesh)
      • Standards and Conformity (Thailand)
      • Banking arrangement (Sri Lanka)
      • e-BIMSTEC (India)
      • Intellectual property rights (India)
      • Mobility of business people (Sri Lanka)
      • Promotion of intra-BIMSTEC Investment (India)
  2. Technology led by Sri Lanka
  3. Transport and Communication led by India
  4. Energy led by Myanmar
  5. Tourism led by India
  6. Agriculture and Fisheries led by Thailand

BIMSTEC's Working MechanismCan be divided into 5 levels:

  • Sectoral and sub-sectoral meeting: Regarding the 6 sectors and 15 sub-sectors, the Lead Countries will host expert meetings of their sectors annually and report the resul to the Working Group in Bangkok via respective Embassies to Thailand. The result will then be further reported to the SOM.
  • BIMSTEC Working Group meeting in Bangkok is attended by the Director-General of the Departmentof International Economic Affairs and by the Ambassadors of all membercountries to Thailand or their representatives. The meeting takes place monthly in Bangkok to follow up and push forward progress in different cooperation sectors, as wellas to study prospects and policies of cooperationbefore reporting to the SOM. Furthermore, the BIMSTEC Center, located at the Institute for Trade Strategies, theUniversity of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, also serves as a small secretariat forthe BIMSTEC Working Group.
  • Senior Officials, Meeting (SOM): is divided into the areas of trade and economic affairs (STEOM) and foreign affairs (SOM). Permanent secretaries of trade and economic affairs, and that of foreign affairs lead delegation in the two meetings, respectively. Tasks belonging to STEOM are the study of free trade area, the cooperation in trade and investment and their 15 sub-sectors, and it is to report to the Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting. On the other hand, SOM is assigned to monitor progress of the Working Group in the remaining sectors and report to the Foreign Ministerial Meeting.
  • Ministerial Meeting: Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting monitors the progress in thetrade and investment sector as well as the FTA policy, while the Foreign Ministerial Meeting determines the final policy for the Leaders' Summit. Note that BIMSTECmeetingshad been limited to the vice foreign ministers level until the 5th Ministerial Meeting inColombo in December 2002.
  • Leaders' Summit: Sri Lanka Prime Minister's opening remark of the 5th Ministerial
    Meeting proposed that time has come for BIMSTEC to have its Leaders' Summit, of whichan idea was agreed by other countries. Thus the first Leaders' Summit was held in Thailand on30-31 July 2004. The meeting was the important mechanism to materializethe progress of cooperation that reflects political commitment and support of theTop-down process, inorder to push forward BIMSTEC at a policy level.


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