|Wednesday, 28 July 2004|
BIMST-EC summit to develop strategies for development projects
From Shirajiv Sirimane in Bangkok
The first BIMST-EC summit, scheduled from July 30-31 in Bangkok, at the Shangri-La hotel will seek to develop strategies to implement a number of priority development projects related to trade, investment, transport and energy sectors to accelerate socio-economic growth in the region.
The proposed Asian Highway Network, the ambitious road project that proposes to connect South Asia with Southeast Asia, will come up for discussion at the event. The other priorities on the agenda are trade, investment, tourism, energy, infrastructure, technology, transportation and communication.
All heads of states of the Asian economic cooperation bloc from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka will attend the summit to take key decisions, according to a spokesman for the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry. The two new members Nepal and Bhutan too would participate in this year's summit.
Foreign Ministry sources said the seventh ministerial meeting, held in February in the Thai capital, identified 22 priority projects related to trade and investment, tourism, energy, technology, fisheries, and transport and communications.
The priorities were identified taking into account the common benefit and economic progress of the member-countries, they said.
The approved projects were spread among all member-countries to devise strategies on a sub-regional basis, which will accelerate the socio-economic development of all member countries.
The projects established are trade data and information bank, jute and jute products for packaging materials, training of trainers of small and cottage industries training institutes, study on impact of offshore oil and gas drilling on the marine fisheries resources in the Bay of Bengal, and management and development of new fisheries in the Bay.
The other projects approved by the ministries and duly assigned to other member-countries include establishment of a BIMST-EC free-trade area, technical training in reducing lead time, establishment of a federation of processed food associations, training on information technology for BIMST-EC countries, BIMST-EC trans-power exchange and development projects and strategies for low-cost micro-irrigation projects.
Formed in 1997 to build a bridge between the member countries of SAARC and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), BIMST-EC originally comprised Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The decision to include Bhutan and Nepal, two Himalayan kingdoms as full-fledged members was taken at a ministerial meeting of BIMST-EC in Thailand in February.
The summit, originally scheduled for February, had to be postponed due to the Indian general election.
For newly appointed Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the trip to Thailand will be his first visit abroad since assuming office in June.
Produced by Lake House