See More on Facebook

Economics, News

BIMSTEC leaders say committed to enhancing connectivity

Leaders from the seven-nation regional grouping emphasise importance of exploring multiple avenues of connectivity, ranging from physical to digital platforms.


Written by

Updated: August 31, 2018

The heads of state and the government of the seven-nation regional grouping reiterated the need for enhancing connectivity within the member states at the inaugural session of the 4th Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit in Kathmandu on Thursday.

Addressing a formal session at an event in Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza, the leaders emphasized the importance of exploring multiple avenues of connectivity, ranging from physical to digital platforms.

Even though the regional institution has 1.6 billion population representing 22 percent of the world population, and has combined GDP of around $2.8 trillion, its regional trade amounts to a meagre five percent, highlighting the need for enhancing deeper cooperation within the member states. Of the five percent, trade between India-Thailand and Thailand-Myanmar covers a substantial chunk.

Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, the chair of the inaugural session, opened his 27-minutes long speech, emphasizing on BIMSTEC as a unique platform that connects the countries from South Asia with South-East Asia. Oli said the regional institution is an idea that deeper integration can unleash the economic dynamism and address the development needs of countries and people—and is a medium to accelerate social progress and promote collaboration and partnership.

“It also has to evolve as a cohesive regional grouping; an association of connected countries, connected societies and connected peoples,” Oli said during his speech.

Prime Minister gave the opening remarks at the inaugural session of the summit.

The Nepali prime minister also insisted that the member states should work to liberate people from the clutches of poverty, adding that the dream of prosperity will falter if the regional grouping fails to defeat the darkness of poverty.

Oli called on the member states to stand united to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, highlighting that the region is not immune from dangers of terrorism, organised crime, drugs trafficking, human trafficking, and money laundering among others.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said that his country is committed to connecting its national knowledge network with Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan through the medium of digital connectivity. Modi highlighted connectivity as the biggest opportunity for BIMSTEC nations and stressed on the need for focusing on the connectivity of trade and economy, transportation, digital connectivity and people-to-people connectivity.

“We [India] can host meetings of the member states for pushing the agenda of coastal shipping and motor vehicle agreement,” he said.

The Indian prime minister, who according to observers seemed willing to rejuvenate the regional institution labelled as “dysfunctional” by some critics, proposed organizing new events—India Mobile Congress, Science and Technology Interventions in the North Eastern Region, North Eastern Space Application Centre, International Buddhist Conclave, BIMSTEC Youth Summit, BIMSTEC Band Festival, and BIMSTEC Youth Water Sports to name a few—and encouraged member states to be active participants of these initiatives.

Modi also pledged to set up the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies in Nalanda University to conduct research of BIMSTEC region in the field of art, culture, and ocean law.

Drawing attention to the region’s growing vulnerability against natural disasters, the Indian leader also welcomed BIMSTEC Multi-national Military Field Training Exercise and conclave of Army Chiefs, which is scheduled for the second week of September in Pune.

“This region is linked with Himalayas and Bay of Bengal and faces challenges posed by natural calamities time and again. We should extend humanitarian cooperation and disaster relief and for this, we need to cooperate and coordinate with each other,” Modi said.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the prosperity of the BIMSTEC member states is only possible through reforms in politics and economic development. BIMSTEC member states need to promote people-to-people contact by giving special priority to culture and public health, she said.

Tshering Wangchuk, the Chief Advisor of the Interim Government of Bhutan called on the member states to fight against climate change and its adverse effect. While underscoring climate change as a common challenge of the region, Wangchuk said that unified effort is needed to fight against it.

“It is not possible to achieve our objective by a single country,” Wangchuk said. “We need a collaborative effort to resolve our problem while highlighting the importance of connectivity among the people of this region.”

Prayut Chan-ocha, the prime minister of Thailand, said connectivity is the forefront of the nation’s core national policy, proposed two areas of collaboration: transport connectivity and maritime connectivity.

Under the transport connectivity, a trilateral highway connecting India, Myanmar, and Thailand with the East-West Economic Corridor of the ACMES (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar) countries and acceleration of BIMSTEC motor vehicle agreement has been proposed. Likewise, under maritime connectivity, the Thai leader urged member states to accelerate the internal process to complete the signing of the BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement by 2019.

Thailand also showed a keen interest in linking Ranong Port in the West of Thailand with Chittagong Port in Bangladesh as a pilot project.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Economics, News

India’s cyber legislation is part of a worrying trend

International technology firms face sweeping new regulations in India that have the potential to create major shifts in the country’s cyber landscape. The new pieces of legislation were proposed as 2018 came to a close and require technology companies like Facebook and Google to store user data locally, and would also require these companies to police content and remove material the government of India deems unlawful.  Such content would include messages that threaten the “sovereignty and integrity of India.” The rules requires these companies to take action on such messages within a 24 hour period. Such regulations that require companies to monitor content isn’t unique to India. Vietnam has recently passed similar laws, with similar potential consequences. New rules also mandate that companies reveal the origin of particular messages when that information is requested. If that section of t


By Quinn Libson
January 17, 2019

Economics, News

What does Vietnam’s new cyber law mean for online dissent?

Will Facebook kowtow to the Vietnamese government to keep its market share. Facebook is in violation of a Vietnamese new cybersecurity law by allowing its users to post content critical of the communist government on its platform, the Ministry of Information and Communication announced on Wednesday of last week. The news came just days after the law went into effect on Jan. 1. The new legislation requires internet companies to comply with government demands to remove user-posted material it doesn’t like. The law also stipulates that information technology companies—Facebook and Google for instance—may be required to set up local offices and store customer data domestically, a feature which human rights advocates worry might make it easier for the government to track and charge dissidents for their online activities. This new legislation follows a pattern of increasing digital scrutiny by th


By Quinn Libson
January 15, 2019

Economics, News

2019 is a year for major Chinese anniversaries

President Xi Jinping delivered a major speech on Wednesday on Taiwan, one of the hottest button issues for the country. The speech took place to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of a the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” a crucial policy statement issued on Jan. 1, 1979 by the National People’s Congress that helped lead to a rapprochement between Mainland China and Taiwan. Xi’s speech sent a stern warning to those that advocate for Taiwan’s independence, including Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who is up for re-election in January 2020, and her supporters. “It is a historical and legal fact, that Taiwan is part of China and the two sides across Taiwan Straits belong to one and the same China, can never be altered


By Quinn Libson
January 8, 2019

Economics, News

Preview: A year of elections for Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia will have a busy political calendar in 2019 with voters in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines heading to the polls within the year. Thailand In December, Thailand lifted its ban on political activity that has been in place for the past four years as the kingdom prepares for a general election on Feb 24—the country’s first in eight years. The last election the country attempted, in 2014, was sabotaged by anti-government protesters acted to prevent the Pheu Thai Party and its head Yingluck Shinawatra from returning to power. Pheu Thai went on to be ousted by a coup led by then-army chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha and has spent the last five years under military rule. Since then, the military junta has rewritten the Thai Constitution in a wa


By Quinn Libson
January 7, 2019

Economics, News

Pakistan seals financial assistance from UAE

$3 billion financial assistance sealed as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince meets Imran Khan in Islamabad. Pakistani and United Arab Emirates leadership have met thrice now in three months. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the UAE twice after assuming office in August to seek economic assistance. Both countries last week finalised the terms and conditions of a $6.2 billion support package for Islamabad to help address its balance-of-payments crisis. A joint statement issued after the UAE royal’s visit said Prime Minister Khan thanked the crown prince for the “generous” balance-of-payments support of $3 billion, which appears to have materialised first out of the total financial package. Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who last visited


By Dawn
January 7, 2019

Economics, News

AIIB approves applications of six more countries

The total of countries with a membership in the China-led bank now stands at 93. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced on Wednesday that its Board of Governors has approved the membership applications of six more countries, bringing AIIB’s total approved members to 93. The new group of approved members is comprised of Algeria, Ghana, Libya, Morocco, Serbia and Togo. “Within three years, AIIB’s membership has increased from the 57 founders to 93 approved members from almost every continent. This shows our member’s commitment to multilateral cooperation and strengthens AIIB’s role in the international financial community,” said AIIB Vice President and Corporate Secretary Sir Danny Alexander. “The growing membership of the Bank in Europe and Africa also reflects the importance for growth and development of inter-regional connectivity, esp


By China Daily
December 21, 2018