BIMSTEC comprises India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand
Minister of State for External Affairs and Education Rajkumar Ranjan Singh participated in the 19th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting hosted by Chair Thailand virtually from Bangkok on Thursday. The meeting was chaired by Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai.

The BIMSTEC, or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, has India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand as its members.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Ministers approved several documents during the meeting, in pursuance of the directions from the 2016 Leaders’ Retreat, 4th BIMSTEC Summit and 5th BIMSTEC Summit.

These included:

(a) Rules of Procedure for Core BIMSTEC Mechanisms, Sectoral BIMSTEC Mechanisms and BIMSTEC’s External Relations were approved for submission to the Sixth BIMSTEC Summit. The preparation was enabled by the contribution announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister during the 5th BIMSTEC Summit in Colombo towards institution building mechanisms. Accordingly, BIMSTEC Secretariat was authorized to anchor several meetings that brought the BIMSTEC Rules of Procedure into fruition.

(b) Subsequent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement at the 5th BIMSTEC Summit of reviving the BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate, the 19th Meeting approved the draft Host Country Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the BIMSTEC Secretariat for establishing BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate in India.

(c) As per Leaders’ direction during the 2016 Retreat, the Agreement on Maritime Transport Cooperation among the BIMSTEC Member States initiated by India has been approved by the meeting for signature during the Sixth BIMSTEC Summit.

(d) The Meeting also approved the Terms of Reference for an Eminent Person’s Group on the Future Directions of BIMSTEC which were finalized under the special scheme for institution building announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister during the 5th Summit in Colombo.

(e) The Meeting also approved the BIMSTEC Bangkok Vision 2030 which would be launched at the 6th BIMSTEC Summit.

(f) The Meeting approved Administrative and Disciplinary Rules of the Secretariat and amended Financial Rules and Regulations of the BIMSTEC Secretariat which will enable expenditure by the Secretariat throughout the financial year with an approved budget.

BIMSTEC was formed as a regional grouping in June 1997 with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration. Initially known as BIST-EC (Bangladesh-India-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation), the organisation is now known as BIMSTEC and comprises seven Member States with the admission of Myanmar in December 1997, and Bhutan and Nepal in February 2004.

BIMSTEC had initially focused on six sectors - trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism, and fisheries). This was expanded in 2008 to incorporate agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people-to-people contact, and climate change.

In 2021, it was decided that all BIMSTEC cooperation activities will take place in seven pillars. Each pillar is led by one of the member states, who is primarily responsible for furthering cooperation. India leads the security pillar, which has Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime, Disaster Management, and Energy as sub-sectors.