The FS said this at a symposium on 'BIMSTEC: A Vehicle for Growth and Development'

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday said development and prosperity can only be achieved where there is peace and security.

“We all know that security both within the borders and in the littoral region is crucial for our well-being. The relevance of maritime connectivity and security in BIMSTEC is doubly emphasized. Our cooperation in the security sector therefore has a special significance,” he said in his address at the international symposium on “BIMSTEC: A Vehicle for Growth and Development.”

He said National Security Advisors of BIMSTEC countries, who have met thrice since 2017, are working closely and have moved forward in several aspects of security cooperation including counter terrorism, intelligence sharing, cyber security and coastal security in a tangible manner.

At the programme, organized by ISCS Kolkata, the Foreign Secretary also said that robust connectivity is an essential prerequisite for economic integration of the region with smooth cross-border movement of people and goods.

“The BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity, finalized under India’s chairmanship of the expert group last year, envisages a seamless multimodal transport system across the region with efficient transit facilities to enhance the mobility of goods and people,” he added.

“This will stimulate intra-regional trade and investment in the region. It identifies 264 projects requiring an investment of USD 126 billion over a ten year horizon from 2018–2028. Projects worth USD 55.2 billion are already at different stages of implementation,” FS Shringla maintained.

He informed the audience that the ADB had last month conducted the first conclusive workshop on financing of BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Master Plan.

On this occasion, he also said that members of the group have made progress on finalizing the BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and the Motor Vehicles Agreement, which would provide the legal framework for enhanced connectivity in the region.

On BIMSTEC cooperation on energy sector, he said one of the priority areas of BIMSTEC cooperation is to enhance energy cooperation and expand electricity trade through the establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection.

“An MOU for Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection was signed at the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit,” the Foreign Secretary said.

“The power grid interconnection would enhance energy security of the region by improving diversity of sources and means of supply to each participating country,” he added.

With 21.7 percent of the world population and combined GDP of US$ 3.8 trillion, BIMSTEC is a powerful engine of economic growth