BIMSTEC members agree to sign Free Trade Agreement soon

KATHMANDU, Feb. 7 (Xinhua)–The member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) on Tuesday agreed to conclude the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at a earliest date.

The 17th session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) that concluded here on Tuesday made a decision in this regard in view of promoting and enhancing mutual trade and economic cooperation in the BIMSTEC region.

“BIMSTEC member states will hold further negotiations to sign the FTA as early as possible,” said Foreign Secretary of Nepal Shanker Das Bairagi.

The meeting discussed a number of regional issues including connectivity, trade, tourism, investment, counter-terrorism, energy and technology transfer, he told the media.

“Nepal proposed to host the fourth BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu by the end of this year. We will finalize exact dates for holding the BIMSTEC summit based on consensus among other member states,” Bairagi said.

The BIMSTEC member states reached a consensus on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection to enhance cooperation in the field of energy.

The meeting has entrusted the Eminent Persons’ Group to work out a roadmap for future directions of the BIMSTEC in line with the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

High-ranking officials from the BIMSTEC member states, namely, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal, attended the meeting.

The BIMSTEC, founded in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration, is a regional bloc in South Asia that works on 14 sectors including trade and investment, technology, energy, transportation and communication.

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