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

EDITORIAL: Mr Trump in India

US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were able to convey a robust message to the west of the Radcliffe Line, thanks largely to their personal chemistry. The diplomatic irony has been rather exceptionally bitter. Donald Trump’s 36-hour visit to India was somewhat pushed out of focus by the communal flare-up that has overwhelmed parts of Delhi, with the death toll rising to 27 till Thursday afternoon. And yet the US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were able to convey a robust message to the west of the Radcliffe Line, thanks largely to their personal chemistry. And unlike some previous US Presidents, Mr Trump chose not to follow up his visit to India with another to Pakistan… as often as not to sing a different piece. No, he hasn


By The Statesman
February 28, 2020

Economics, News

As Covid-19 spreads, public health officials consider plans for a worst-case scenario

 Department of Health Services has a Plan B for a few infections but its Plan C envisions shutting down all schools, public transport and gatherings in case of a mass outbreak. While Covid-19 coronavirus infections have significantly slowed in China, they are rapidly spreading around the globe, prompting countries to step up measures to control the spread and the UN 


By The Kathmandu Post
February 28, 2020

Economics, News

Vietnam reaffirms support for nuclear non-proliferation treaty

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, head of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, has reaffirmed Vietnam’s strong support for the realisation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on three pillars. During a session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the NPT, Ambassador Quy affirmed that Vietnam has joined all international efforts regarding non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, including regional and global conventions; complied with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s highest safety standards; and strictly followed the UNSC’s resolutions. He said any intentional, unintentional or miscalculated use of nuclear weapons seriously threatened global peace and


By Viet Nam News
February 28, 2020

Economics, News

Budget debate: Coronavirus concerns present long-term opportunities, say MPs

Many have little savings to see them though a work drought, she said, noting that a number of events and work assignments have been cancelled or deferred as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. While the coronavirus outbreak has battered businesses, it has also created opportunities to better prepare Singapore for future challenges, MPs said on Thursday (Feb 27). Speaking on Day 2 of the debate on the Budget statement, they said these include getting more firms to adopt e-commerce, diversifying supply sources and making flexible work arrangements permanent for working parents and caregivers. A total of 54 MPs, including political office holders, spoke over two days on various aspects of the Budget. USING TODAY’S CRISIS TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTU


By The Straits Times
February 28, 2020

Economics, News

Coronavirus: 2 new cases confirmed; 4 more, including private hospital doctor, discharged

 Two patients from the Grace Assembly of God cluster, cases 49 and 73, were also discharged.  Two new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) were confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Feb 26) and four others have recovered and were discharged. This brings the total number of cases here to 93, of which 62 have fully recovered. Case 59, the private hospital doctor, was among the four discharged. The 61-year-old Singaporean was confirmed to have the virus on Feb 13 and had been warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. He is not linked to any of the five known clusters but is a non-medical contact of case 72, a 40-year-old man from China who holds a Singapore work pass. Case 56, a Banglad


By The Straits Times
February 27, 2020

Economics, News

Japan provides protective gear for use in battling coronavirus

 The government of Japan has given personal protective supplies to the Ministry of Health to help medical staff if they are required to care for people infected with the coronavirus. The items were handed over at the Ministry of Health on Tuesday by the Ambassador of Japan to Laos, Mr Takewaka Keizo, to Minister of Health Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong. The supplies comprised 4,680 isolation gowns, 6,100 gloves, 6,000 N95 masks, 13,200 surgical masks, 27 goggles, and 240 bottles of alcohol hand rub. Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong thanked the government of Japan for its assistance, saying “On behalf of Laos, we would like to express our appreciation to the government of Japan for its continuing support to our country.” The ministry has been st


By Vientiane Times
February 27, 2020