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Bay of Bengal group close to agreement

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) agreed to a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed between the BIMSTEC Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank at a meeting in Colombo on 10 and 11 October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

All BIMSTEC Members States attended the meeting, namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the BIMSTEC Secretariat. The event was chaired by P.M.Amza Additional Secretary, Economic Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Ministry Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha stressed the importance of “individual and collective efforts of Member States in making BIMSTEC a more robust organization” and mentioned that BIMSTEC is 30 years old but is yet to gain benefits of the full socio-economic potential.

Later on, he urged delegations to actively seek to understand what holds the organization back – imagination, resources or political will. As a current BIMSTEC Chair, Sri Lanka is crucial in rebooting the organization. The early finalization of the BIMSTEC Charter and the rationalization of sectors in order to maximize utilization of resources and hence make BIMSTEC a result-oriented organization which benefits all the individuals. 

While extending his gratitude for the solidarity shown by member countries of BIMSTEC towards Sri Lanka in the aftermath of Easter attacks, he mentioned that “Sri Lanka will forge closer cooperation, especially in the areas of counter terrorism and transnational crimes”. 

Furthermore, Aryasinha emphasized the importance of BIMSTEC working closely with various international organizations such as the IORA, ASEAN and the ADB.

The Secretary General of BIMSTEC, Ambassador M Shahidul Islam, in his remarks, referring to the Leaders decisions at the 4th BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu in August 2018 pertaining to institutional reforms, reinvigorating sectoral activities through the rationalization of the areas of cooperation and a BIMSTEC Charter, highlighted the need to place before the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Colombo some concrete outcome for endorsement, rather than presenting the status of work in progress. 

“The BPWC is composed of senior level officials of Member States, who act as BIMSTEC National Focal Points in their respective capitals, and hence it could produce the maximum”, stated Islam.

The decision made at the 4th BIMSTEC Summit held in Kathmandu to expand the institutional capacity of BIMSTEC through financing and human resources, the BPWC further considered on the new tier of directors to be appointed to the Secretariat.

Sri Lanka is eligible to nominate a Director to the BIMSTEC Secretariat in June 2020. An updated draft template of the Memorandum of Association (MoA) on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Centres/Entities, the draft calendar of activities/events-2020 and the Secretariat’s estimated budget for FY 2020, was also deliberated at the meeting. 

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