Bangladesh wants BIMSTEC to be a productive organisation for the benefit of the seven member states.
“To gain from the BIMSTEC process, the organisation must produce results,” he said on Monday while speaking at the Bay of Bengal Economic Forum 2021 organised by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM).
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are the member states of the Bay of Bengal grouping for technical and economic cooperation, born in 1997.
The region connects South Asia with Southeast Asia and covers 22 percent of the world population having a combined GDP of $3.5 trillion in 2018 figure.
“The expected results will emerge from more trade and investment backed by transport connectivity in the region leading to more employment generation for our peoples,” the foreign minister said.
“It is now important to make all entities of the BIMSTEC Process fully functional and operational. We need to expedite the implementation of the BIMSTEC Free Trade area. Moreover, connectivity related agreements need to be finalised soon,” he said.
“The sectors of cooperation in the fields of agriculture, energy, public health, technology and ICT needs to be bolstered. Along with traditional security, more focus should be given on emerging non-traditional security threats like COVID 19,” he said.
“The possibilities of BIMSTEC cooperation in the fields of public health (pandemic response, increase disease surveillance, improve public health interventions), food security, disaster management and poverty alleviation in Post-COVID-19 period in the way of knowledge and expertise sharing, technology transfer, and tourism cooperation should be exploited too.
“Last but not the least, finalising BIMSTEC FTA and BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Master Plan on Transport Connectivity will facilitate trade and investment in the region resolving the unemployment problem,” he said in his written statement.
“Bangladesh remains committed to BIMSTEC process,” he said, adding that BIMSTEC provides strong platforms for cooperation in the fields of trade and investment; infrastructure and transport connectivity; agriculture and energy; culture and security; education and tourism and people to people contact through implementing projects, programmes of action and activities by sharing of member states’ resources and best practices and creating synergy for the collective benefits and mutual progress and prosperity of the peoples of this regions.
“Regional cooperation is one of the fundamental principles of our foreign policy as enshrined in the constitution,” he said, adding that regional cooperation is also a foreign policy priority of the Bangladesh government today. Bangladesh has been contributing towards the BIMSTEC process with continued and ever-increasing engagements.
Since its inception in 1997, it has been working to advance the common visions and shared endeavors of the Bay of Bengal Region.
Hosting of the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka is the manifestation of Bangladesh’s firm commitment to the BIMSTEC process, the foreign minister said.
“A result-oriented mutually beneficial partnership under the BIMSTEC process can usher in collective economic and social prosperity of our peoples.”
“I strongly believe that in the face of the unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the relevance and role of BIMSTEC as a regional group of 1.5 billion people is of utmost importance!
“With a view to addressing the critical social and economic impacts of COVID-19, the BIMSTEC can play an instrumental and pivotal role in establishing a strong partnership and solidarity among the BIMSTEC member states.
“A timely and effective response to COVID-19 can enable the BIMSTEC Member States to limit the potentially devastating impact on its people and economies and find out suitable remedies for the pandemic already caused.
“Bangladesh can leverage its partnership in BIMSTEC forums in addressing multi-prong challenges in the Post-Covid-19 Era in a more effective and powerful manner.
“COVID-19 Crisis has three fold impacts; short run, medium run and long run. Solutions must also be of three folds, short term solutions, medium term solutions and long term solutions,” the foreign minister said.
“As short term solutions, we provided public health care, food and medicines and economic incentives to the people as domestic measures. In the medium term approach, we are providing vaccinations as public health security measures and pursuing other economic measures. It is the long term economic fallout of COVID 19 that requires long term collective redress from the governments, industries, academia, and civil society based think tanks at domestic, regional and global level,” he said