The countdown has started for the first-ever international conclave on BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation with the release of its official brochure and website of the BIMSTEC conference by Mr. Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Government of India at the curtain raiser programme held on June 7 in New Delhi. The international conclave on BIMSTEC will be organised by FICCI in collaboration with India Foundation from November 2 to 4, 2017, in Guwahati under the overarching theme of ‘BIMSTEC: An Enabling Architecture for Growth, Prosperity and Partnerships’.
According to FICCI statement, the conclave aims to engage the Member States of BIMSTEC on the same platform and collectively streamline a vision for the future. High level delegations from all the Member States of BIMSTEC comprising key dignitaries and policy makers from the government, industry players and academicians are expected to participate. Effective exchange of ideas, success stories and knowledge transfer on developmental issues such as sustainable development goals, trade and investment, skills development and capacity building, arts and culture would enable the process of regional engagement in BIMSTEC easier. This regional conference would strengthen the people to people connectivity, partnerships among businesses and economic engagement among the Member States in BIMSTEC. The conference will act as a prelude to the Regional Summit, expected to be scheduled in Nepal where all the Member States of BIMSTEC hopefully would endorse the Policy Paper.
Addressing the curtain raiser, Mr. Sinha said that to strengthen trade, connectivity was vital to develop linkages. Therefore, the focus was on developing transport infrastructure, which included rail and roadways, waterways and aviation. India was developing its railways and roadways network and was linking the northeast with the rest of India as it was the hub for reaching out to the neighbouring countries.
To encourage high value travellers and allow free movement for businesspersons, Mr. Sinha said that there should be an open skies policy in BIMSTEC on the lines of SAARC agreement. He added that besides creating an aviation network, there was a need to enhance land and water connectivity between BIMSTEC for hassle-free movement of goods and services.
In his message Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, said, “BIMSTEC not only connects South and South-East Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. With shared values, histories, ways of life and destinies that are interlinked, BIMSTEC represents a common space for peace and development. For India, it is a natural platform to fulfill our key foreign policy priorities of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’.”