“Our region faces challenges of health and economic security, the need of the hour is unity and cooperation,” he said. India would provide Bimstec with $1 million as operating budget, he said. “It is important to strengthen the capacity (of the regional alliance).” In his brief address, Modi underlined the importance of agreeing on a free trade agreement among Bimstec members.
“The time has come to make the Bay of Bengal the bridge of connectivity, prosperity and security. I call on all Bimstec nations to dedicate themselves to working with new enthusiasm to achieve the goals we achieved together in 1997,” Modi said. “Today is the time to make Bay of Bengal bridge of connectivity, bridge of prosperity, bridge of security,” he said. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan are the members of Bimstec, apart from India.
The summit’s theme, ‘towards a resilient region, prosperous economies, healthy people’ captures current priorities of member states, and efforts to develop cooperation that support programmes to deal with economic and development consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic among members. The main outcome of the summit was the signing of the Bimstec charter, which formalises the grouping into an organisation made up of member states littoral to, and dependent on, the Bay of Bengal.
The summit also saw considerable progress being achieved in Bimstec connectivity agenda with the adoption of a master plan for transport connectivity by leaders which lays out a guidance framework for connectivity related activities in the region.
Agreements signed on Wednesday included Bimstec Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, MoU on mutual cooperation for diplomatic training and another MoU for establishment of Bimstec technology transfer facility.
India, meanwhile, reiterated its call for unimpeded humanitarian access to battle zones in Ukraine. India remains “deeply concerned at the ongoing situation, which continues to deteriorate since the beginning of the hostilities”, it said at the UNSC.