Amid Saarc’s apparent failure, regional grouping Bimstec is getting a big boost. They Member States expect that it will soon start yielding results to fulfill the aspirations of the people of this region.
The Member States want to see Bimstec becomes more efficient and effective with an outcome-oriented and people-centric approach to regional cooperation.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) Member States are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It has a combined GDP of over US$ 2.85 trillion.
The 5th Bimstec Summit was proposed to be held in early this month but got postponed due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
The next Bimstec Summit, preceded by the 17th Bimstec Ministerial meeting, is now proposed to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in the first half of January 2021 subject to the improved COVID situation.
With the hosting of the Summit, the Chairmanship of Bimstec will be handed over to Thailand for the period of 2021-2022.
Bimstec Summit of the Heads of the Bimstec countries is the highest policy making body in the BIMSTEC process.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen took part in the 21st Session of the Bimstec Senior Official’s Meeting (SOM) virtually held on September 2 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The Foreign Secretaries and Senior Officials of all the seven Bimstec member states joined the first ever virtually held SOM during this unprecedented COVID-19 Pandemic.
At the meeting, Sri Lanka, the current Chair of Bimstec, expressed their readiness to host the 5th Bimstec Summit as well as the 17th Bimstec Ministerial Meeting in early January 2021.
The Foreign Secretaries finalized some important legal instruments including Bimstec Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of Bimstec Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Bimstec Charter; and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Mutual Cooperation between Diploamtic Academies/Training Institutions of Bimstec Member States.
These legal instruments are envisaged to be signed at the 5th Bimstec Summit, according to Bimstec headquarters.
With the finalization of the Bimstec Charter, a long overdue document since BIMSTEC’s inception, it is expected that Bimstec will move on a fast track.
They agreed to leverage regional cooperation through the Bimstec process to combat the adverse effects of pandemic.
The meeting also approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Bimstec Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank for enlisting greater project support in the region.
With the holding of the 5th Bimstec Summit, the chairmanship of the organization will go to Thailand.
The Foreign Secretaries welcomed Tenzin Lekphell from Bhutan for the position of next Secretary General of Bimstec.
Tenzin Lekphell, a distinguished bureaucrat turned politician, will replace the incumbent Secretary General Ambassador M Shahidul Islam from Bangladesh.
The meeting also appreciated Ambassador M Shahidul Islam, outgoing Secretary General of Bimstec from Bangladesh for his dynamic leadership and remarkable contributions to make the organization more vibrant in his three years tenure.
Foreign Secretary Masud expressed Bangladesh’s strong commitment to Bimstec process and stressed on the importance of strengthening Bimstec institutional mechanisms and rationalization of Bimstec areas of cooperation keeping in mind the challenges posed by the ongoing global pandemic COVID-19.
While welcoming the appointment of the next Secretary General, echoing with other heads of the delegations of the Senior Official’s Meeting, the Foreign Secretary expressed his confidence that the next Secretary General will carry forward the momentum of the Bimstec process ahead that have been created by the incumbent Secretary General through his dynamic activities and innovative initiatives.
Bangladesh facilitated and supported the endorsement of a series of vital documents at the 21st Session of the Bimstec Senior Official’s Meeting chaired by Admiral Prof Jayanath Colombage, the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka and 4th Bimstec Permanent Working Committee (BPWC) Meeting also virtually held on 31st August 2020.
Moreover, the SOM considered the report of 4th BPWC Meeting that has finalized and recommended some more important legal documents including Rules of Procedures, Procurement Policy, granting GPF to local staffs, finalization of the Organogram of Bimstec.
In addition, the 21st SOM prepared the agenda of the 17th Ministerial Meeting and the 5th Bimstec Summit.