Fourth BIMSTEC Summit kicks off

Kathmandu, Aug 30 – The Fourth Summit of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) began today in Kathmandu.
Prime Minister of Nepal and BIMSTEC Chairperson KP Sharma Oli announced the beginning of the Summit welcoming the Heads of State and Government of BIMSTEC Member States at a special programme this afternoon.
In his inaugural speech on behalf of the BIMSTEC Chairperson, Prime Minister Oli expressed the belief that the BIMSTEC Member States would carry out necessary efforts to make the region prosperous and leading the BIMSTEC countries towards peace and development. He also stressed the need of deeper integration among the BIMSTEC Member States.
The Heads of State and Government of BIMSTEC Member States are scheduled to address the Summit as per the alphabetical order.
In the Summit, President of Myanmar Win Myint and President of Sri Lanka Maitripala Sirisena have led their countries’ delegate.
Likewise, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Chief Advisor to the Interim Government of Bhutan and Chief Justice Gyalpo Tshering Wangchuk and Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha-led delegates are attending the Summit.
From Nepal, Acting Chief Justice, Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Chairman of the National Assembly, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and former Prime Ministers are attending the Summit.
Furthermore, chiefs of diplomatic mission in Nepal, former ministers, leaders of different political parties, Secretary General of BIMSTEC, high-level officials of Government of Nepal among others are taking part in the Summit.
The Heads of State and Government shall express their views being focused on ‘Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal.’ The Summit will conclude on Friday by issuing Kathmandu Declaration.

Indian PM lays emphasis on trade, transport and people’s level network

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) are connected through unflagging bond of shared culture.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the fourth summit of BIMSTEC beginning here today, Prime Minister Modi added that the Bay of Bengal located in the confluence of Himalayan mountain range and Hinda Ocean would attach special importance for shared development, progress and security of all member states.

This is the fourth Nepal visit of Prime Minister Modi after he took charge of the premiership of India – the southern neighbour.

“India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy is for the sake of the region”, he said, adding, “We all are developing countries and hence peace and prosperity is our common priority. But, in today’s interconnected world, this could not be materialized through lone efforts. So, cooperation and togetherness from all is a must”.

The Indian PM laid emphasis on putting joint efforts towards enhancing trade, economy, transport, digital and people-level networking.

Modi also underlined the need of setting up a network of women lawmakers representing BIMSTEC member states.

He expressed India’s readiness to host a BIMSTEC level conference to enhance networking and connectivity among the business community of the sub-regional bloc.

On the occasion, the Prime Minister shared that India would organize an international conference on agriculture research and educational enhancement to boost cooperation in the areas, when most of the member states being agriculture-based countries are facing the menace of the negative effects of climate change.

Expressing commitment that India was ready to expand its national knowledge network in digital connectivity to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, he also wished to widen the network to Myanmar and Thailand.

“I am hopeful that you would participate in the ‘India Mobile Congress’ to be held at New Delhi in October later this year”, he noted.

Common resolution to fight climate change effect

Chief advisor to the interim government of Bhutan Lyonpo Tshering Wangchuk has said common efforts were imperative to fight the impact of climate change.
Addressing the fourth BIMSTEC summit kicked off here Thursday, Wangchuk said as the climate change is the common problem of this region, common efforts were essential to cope up with it.
He reminded that Bhutan has given top priority to environment conservation and more than 51 percent of its geography was covered with forest. “It is difficult to achieve common objective with one sided efforts, so collective endeavour is required”, he said underscoring regional peace, stability and development.
According to him, expansion of connectivity would help bolster the relations in the people’s level in the region. Control of terrorism is equally important to ensure peace and stability, which too needs collective endeavour.
As Wangchuk pointed out common resolution was essential for elimination of poverty with the expansion of trade among the member states.

Political and Economic reforms essential: PM Hasina

Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheik Hasina has said that the prosperity of the BIMSTEC member states was possible through reforms in politics and economic situation.
Addressing the 4th summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) that began here today, Prime Minister Hasina called for collective efforts in order to put an end to poverty and hunger from the region with the development and expansion of security, tourism, energy and connectivity. BIMSTEC member states need to promote people-to-people contact by giving special priority to culture and public health, she said.
She shared that her government was working to increase the country’s GDP, ensure education for all and for socio-economic reforms.
Thanking Nepal for hosting the summit, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister lauded the speech by Prime Minister and BIMSTEC chair KP Sharma Oli, by describing it as ‘inspiring’.

Strong political will key to BIMSTEC success- PM Oli

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that the vision, commitment and action of the BIMSTEC will have an impact on global political and economic order.
Inaugurating the fourth BIMSTEC Summit in the capital on Thursday, he said the summit brings together a resolve of their leaderships — a resolve for progress and prosperity; and for sustainable development.
“BIMSTEC is an idea that deeper integration can unleash the economic dynamism and address the development needs of countries and peoples, and an idea to accelerate social progress and promote collaboration and partnership”, he said.
The PM further said, “It is a collective commitment for deeper integration of our economies, of our trade and commerce. It is a commitment to seize the opportunities of globalization and shifting of economic locus to Asia”.
In realizing our potentials, we must liberate our people from the clutches of vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation that drains potential and ridicule efforts as well as intentions. “The dream of prosperity falters if we fail to defeat the darkness of poverty”, he asserted.
Calling for the full implementation of the BIMSTEC Poverty Plan of Action, he said they must build on the progress made in the implementation of Millennium Development Goals and integrate the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“We have been bearing the heavy brunt of nature’s fury. Disproportionate consequences of climate change have adversely impacted us. Calamities such as landslides and floods have caused colossal loss. Ironically, we are being penalized for the mistakes we never made”, he added.
Prime Minister Oli, also the chair of BIMSTEC Summit, stressed the need for collective preparedness and enhanced collaboration to prevent the perils of such calamities and to adapt to and mitigate the menace of climate change based on the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities.
“Keeping in mind that our region is not immune from dangers of terrorism, organized crimes, drugs trafficking, human trafficking, and money laundering, among others, we must remain united in defeating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, combating all other transnational organized crimes and maintaining peace and stability for sustained economic growth and development”.
An early conclusion of the agreements on trade in goods, trade in services, investment, mutual assistance in customs matters, dispute settlement and trade facilitation is the need of hour to enable BIMSTEC to effectively move forward, he noted.
“Increased understanding among us is a sine qua non to realize our commitments for free and fair trade”. Our success will depend on lesser barriers and greater trade facilitations; on smooth and uninterrupted transit arrangements; on increased flow of goods and services; and on scaling up of investments.
“Decent jobs and gainful employment for working population, modernization of agriculture, utilization of energy potentials in particular hydro-power, infrastructure development, tourism and development of human resources are among the priorities his government to achieve the goal of Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali”.
“Taking note of the simmering uncertainties in multilateralism, we must collectively make a resolve to preserve and maintain multilateralism as the most legitimate process for addressing contemporary challenges of global scale”, he said.
The Prime Minister also asserted that All States- bigger or smaller- must fulfil their responsibilities in good faith and ensure that the principles of fairness and justice are upheld.
“We want to achieve the goal of prosperity and happiness within a democratic framework established by our constitution and on the strengths of uniquely successful peace process”, he said while expressing commitment to democracy, human rights, good governance, rule of law, and social justice.
“Better connectivity of roads, railways, airways, waterways will unlock our full potential. It can promote meaningful cooperation in trade and investment, energy, tourism and technology transfer”, he added. An early adoption of the draft BIMSTEC Master Plan on Transport Connectivity and timely conclusion of transport related regional instruments will help advance our cooperation in this critical area.
He also underlined the importance of developing and operationalizing a Buddhist Circuit in the region to promote connectivity and tourism.
“A strong political will coupled with right mix of policies, institutions and resources can ensure the success of BIMSTEC. As our organization evolves, we should be prepared to adopt a Charter to provide it a solid legal foundation”.

Time for BIMSTEC to review collaboration: Thai Prime Minister Prayut

Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has said it is now time for BIMSTEC to review collaboration amidst the volatile political and economic situation, along with the current trend of nationalism, anti-globalization, protectionism and other emerging threats.
Addressing the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit here Thursday, Thai Prime Minister Prayut argued that BIMSTEC must be prepared to tackle these challenges through dynamic cooperation and step up to be a key player to support Asia as a driving force of the global economy.
“The success of the 4th BIMSTEC Summit, therefore, lies in the exchange of experience, strengths and expertise of each member country on the basis of mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit so that we can transform our region towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal,” he added, underscoring the connectivity, trade and investment, people-to-people contact, security, and science and technology in the region. Restructuring of the areas of cooperation would enable BIMSTEC to be more dynamic, he suggested.
According to him, Thailand stands ready to play a leading role in the proposed pillars during our future chairmanship of ASEAN in 2019 and APEC in 2022 to yield tangible results, sustainability, continuity and monitoring system are needed.
He reminded that connectivity is at the forefront of Thailand’s core national policy. “For BIMSTEC, I would like to propose that, at this initial stage, we collaborate to promote two main areas – transport connectivity and maritime connectivity,” he mentioned.
The Thai Prime Minister expressed his confidence that BIMSTEC would shine on the world stage once the member states successfully reached the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement.
Reminding that the BIMSTEC, in the inception, had aimed to make BIMSTEC a Free Trade Zone, he pointed out the need to hold on and make more efforts to realize the initial purpose of BIMSTEC founders at the earliest opportunity. “Let’s not forget that we have full potential in terms of working age population (over 1.6 billion people or 24 % of the world population), and as an emerging market with high purchasing power. Our region is also in a prime location between Indian and Pacific Oceans, flanked by two of the world’s top economies like India and China,” he asserted.


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