On 6 June 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok and given the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Myanmar attended the inaugural June Meeting as an observer and joined the organization as a full member at a Special Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok on 22 December 1997, upon which the name of the grouping was changed to BIMST-EC.
Nepal was granted observer status by the second Ministerial Meeting in Dhaka in December 1998. Subsequently, full membership has been granted to Nepal and Bhutan in 2003. In the first Summit on 31 July 2004, leaders of the group agreed that the name of the grouping should be known as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. BIMSTEC focuses on economic cooperation which makes BIMSTEC covers all aspects regarding the word ‘developing’. BIMSTEC provides a unique link between South Asia and Southeast Asia bringing together 1.3 billion people – 21 percent of the world population, a combined GDP of US$750 billion, and a considerable amount of complementarities. A study shows the potential of US$ 43 to 59 billion trade creation under BIMSTEC.
Aims & Goals: Every organization has some goals and every organization has some certain targets that it wants to achieve. • To create an enabling environment for rapid economic development.
- Accelerate social progress in the sub-region, promote active collaboration.
- Mutual assistance on matters of common interest, provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities.
- Cooperate more effectively in joint efforts that are supportive and complementary to national development plans of member states.
- Maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organizations.
BIMSTEC was initiated with the goal to combine the ‘Look West’ policy of ASEAN with the ‘Look East’ policy of SARRC. So it could be explained that BIMSTEC is a link between ASEAN and SARRC.
BIMSTEC & Bangladesh:
In the last decade, Bangladesh has shown a keen interest in the formation & taking part of sub-regional grouping such as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). By staying with BIMSTEC Bangladesh can fulfill its Look east policy and improve business and trade with South Asian countries which has lots of opportunities. Bangladesh is the first Chairman of BIMSTEC ( for the year 1997 – 1999). Also Bangladesh leads one of the most important sectors covered by BIMSTEC that is “Trade and Investment”.
By Staying in such a group Bangladesh can achieve goals of her national interests easily because most of the members of BIMSTEC’s are tied together with some basic common goals upon which we can work together.
There are some prerequisite before any country can qualify as a general member. Presently there are currently 7 members & they are;
- Sri Lanka
- Eligibility: Countries seeking membership should satisfy the conditions of territorial contiguity to, or direct opening into, or primary dependence on the Bay of Bengal for trade and transportation purposes.
- Procedure: All applications should be submitted in writing to the Chairman of BIMSTEC. The decision on admitting new members will be taken on the basis of consensus by all the BIMSTEC members.
BIMSTEC Priority Sectors: For better understanding and easy development, BIMSTEC members have found out 13 general priority sectors upon which they work on. Each of these 13 sector are leaded by a single country with its own team and they are responsible for the development of the given sectors.
- Trade and Investment, led by Bangladesh
- Transport and Communication, led by India
- Energy, led by Myanmar
- Tourism, led by India
- Technology, led by Sri Lanka
- Fisheries, led by Thailand
- Agriculture, led by Myanmar
- Public Health, led by Thailand
- Poverty Alleviation, led by Nepal
- Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime, led by India
- Environment and Natural Disaster Management, led by India
- Culture, led by Bhutan
- People to People contact, led by Thailand
Right now there is no scope for expansion but with time surely more and more country will join BIMSTEC for jointly achieving the goals. Till then let us put our finger crossed.