Recently, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping’s fifth summit took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Host for the Fifth Summit).

Key Highlights of the Summit

  • The signing of the BIMSTEC Charter was the main outcome of this summit.
  • Under this Charter, the members were expected to meet once every two years.
  • With the Charter, the BIMSTEC now has an international personality. It has an emblem, it has a flag.
  • It has a formally listed purpose and principles that it is going to adhere to.
  • In line with the development of the organisation into a formal structure, the leaders of the member-countries have agreed to divide the working of the grouping into seven segments, with India providing leadership to the security pillar.
  • The summit saw the declaration of the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity that would provide a framework for regional and domestic connectivity.
  • Member countries also signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters.
  • A Memorandum of Association (MoA) on the establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • India will provide the (BIMSTEC) secretariat USD 1 million US dollars to increase its operational budget.


  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organisation comprising seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.
  • This sub-regional organisation came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
  • With 21.7% of the world’s population and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 3.8 trillion, BIMSTEC has emerged as an influential engine of economic growth.
  • The BIMSTEC Secretariat is in Dhaka.

Institutional Mechanisms:

  1. BIMSTEC Summit
  2. Ministerial Meeting
  3. Senior Officials’ Meeting
  4. BIMSTEC Working Group
  5. Business Forum & Economic Forum

Way Forward

  • There is a need for finalisation of the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement among the member countries.
  • As the region is facing challenges of health and economic security and stressed the need for solidarity and cooperation, the FTA will make the Bay of Bengal a bridge of connectivity, a bridge of prosperity, a bridge of security.


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