- The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organisation that comprises seven member states adjacent to the Bay of Bengal.
- It includes: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.
- It is headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
- BIMSTEC came into existence on June 6, 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- Initially, the economic bloc was formed with four Member States with the acronym ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation)
- Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997, the group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’.
- With the admission of Nepal and Bhutan in 2004, the name of the grouping was changed to ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC).
- BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization.
- BIMSTEC has 14 priority areas of cooperation, namely (i) Trade and Investment (ii) Technology (iii) Energy (iv) Transportation and Communication (v) Tourism (vi) Fisheries (vii) Agriculture (viii) Cultural Cooperation (ix) Environment and Disaster Management (x) Public Health (xi) People-to-People Contact (xii) Poverty Alleviation (xiii) Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime and (xiv) Climate Change.
- The founding principles of BIMSTEC are as follows:
- Cooperation within BIMSTEC will be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, no-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co- existence and mutual benefit.
- Cooperation within BIMSTEC will constitute an addition to and not be a substitute for bilateral, regional or multilateral cooperation involving the Member States.
- The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion.
- The objective of BIMSTEC is to harness shared and accelerated growth through mutual cooperation in different areas of common interests.
- The regional group constitutes a bridge between South and South East Asia and represents a reinforcement of relations among these countries.
- BIMSTEC has also established a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members.
Why in News?
- External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently participated at the ministerial meet of the BIMSTEC which was held virtually.