BIMSTEC to focus on connectivity; to adopt Bangkok vision 2030 at next summit

A marine transport cooperation agreement is also expected to be concluded at the summit

June 15, 2023 09:30 pm | Updated June 16, 2023 01:10 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Thailand’s Vice Foreign Minister Vijavat Isarabhakdi speaking at an event ‘BIMSTEC – the way forward” organised by India Foundation on June 15, 2023

Thailand’s Vice Foreign Minister Vijavat Isarabhakdi speaking at an event ‘BIMSTEC – the way forward” organised by India Foundation on June 15, 2023 | Photo Credit: Dinakar Peri

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit end of this year will adopt a Bangkok vision 2030 which would be overarching kind of document and give direction to the organisation and the eminent persons group would also be guided by that, according to Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), while stating that a marine transport cooperation agreement is also expected to be concluded at the summit.

“Thailand has put forth the Bangkok vision 2030 which seeks to propel BIMSETC towards a region that is prosperous, resilient and open... moving us in a forward-looking trajectory for sustainable and balanced growth,” said Thailand’s Vice Foreign Minister Vijavat Isarabhakdi on Thursday, speaking at an event ‘BIMSTEC – the way forward” organised by India Foundation. Towards this an eminent group of persons has been introduced for monitoring progress in all seven sectors, he stated.

The grouping comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In 2022, the BIMSTEC charter was adopted which lays the foundation for it to function as a full-fledged organisation.

Further, he said given the rapid changes in the regional and global architecture, tensions between major powers and the emergence of countless disruptions, most regional organisations, including BIMSTEC, have been “severely challenged on the idea of how multilateralism should conform in a fast-changing, volatile environment”. “Thailand as the current chair has worked closely with member-states to prepare them for the future by trying to strengthen on three aspects. The first way is by enhancing regional inter-connectedness, involvement of all stakeholders and promoting BIMSTEC’s internal strength,” Mr. Isarabhakdi stated. 

In this regard, he said Thailand as the lead-country in the field of connectivity seeks to lead a seamless network of interconnectedness by promoting the implementation of projects under the BIMSTEC master plan for connectivity. This 10-year master plan covers roads, railway, civil aviation, maritime transport and multi-modular infrastructure, he stated, adding that the agreement on maritime transport cooperation that was agreed recently had become a milestone as it would not only promote movement of people and goods between member-states as well as open up new opportunities for Blue economy.

On this, Mr. Kumar said the working group on connectivity had met few months ago and an expert group on connectivity had been formed which would look at the implementation and also to keep updating this master plan so that it did not get outdated. 

Mr. Isarabhakdi also called for synergy between the master plans of BIMSTEC and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for growth of the entire region. 

Draft text approved

The 19th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting hosted by Thailand in March had discussed and approved the draft text of BIMSTEC Bangkok Vision 2030, a leader-level document proposed by Thailand to guide BIMSTEC towards a prosperous, resilient and open region by 2030, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry. “The document aims to further promote BIMSTEC as a region of peace, stability, and economic sustainability. The goals found in the vision are also in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Thailand’s bio-circular-green economic model,” it said in a statement.

The same ministerial meeting had also approved a number of agreements and important documents, including the rules of procedure for BIMSTEC mechanism, and agreement on maritime transport cooperation. These documents will go on to be later discussed at the 6th BIMSTEC Summit.

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