New Delhi: Sri Lanka is planning to host the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit in mid August, with dates still to be finalized.
This will be the 5th such summit of the grouping. The last summit took place in Kathmandu in 2018, with PM Modi attending the meet.
BIMSTEC has 7 members- India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The grouping is more than 20 years old and was formed in 1997.
The summit could happen physically, but depends on the covid situation. Sri Lanka as the chair of the grouping this year, is eyeing for a physical summit.
Last week it held the foreign minister’s virtual summit. The agenda for the leaders’ meeting was taken up during this summit.
The agenda will consist of the approval of BIMSTEC Charter,BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity & BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Grouping is also working on finalization of BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and the Motor Vehicles Agreement.
India is very keen on the grouping, with SAARC being unable to function well due to Pakistan’s politicization of many proposals from India.
At the foreign minister virtual meet, External Affairs minister S Jaishankar said, “BIMSTEC over the years has emerged as a promising sub-regional grouping with growing strategic and economic interests of the Member States, as well as of the international community in the Bay of Bengal region.”
In 2019, India had invited BIMSTEC heads of government & states for PM Modi’s oath taking ceremony for 2nd term. After Sri Lanka, Thailand will be the host of the grouping.