Sri Lanka to be hub of Bay of Bengal - President | Daily News

Sri Lanka to be hub of Bay of Bengal - President

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the BIMSTEC Summit.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the BIMSTEC Summit.

Sri Lanka is positioning itself to play a hub role within the Bay of Bengal region. This is through measures to increase the continental shelf of the country and increase the role it plays in the marine industries of the broader Bay of Bengal region.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made these long term strategic plans known to other Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) members on March 30 at an event hosted by the country. Rajapaksa called for co-operation to prevent issues of overfishing and illicit activity facilitated through the oceans. The President recalling the Easter Sunday attacks wanted there to be greater intelligence sharing between the member countries.

Rajapaksa likened the Bay of Bengal to one of the future engines of the international economy and wanted Sri Lankan infrastructure, both in terms of air and marine, to play a hub role for the broader region. Rajapaksa called on for regional co-operation in terms of tourism and signalled a willingness to act even unilaterally to improve tourist access.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the region is facing challenges of health and economic security and the need of the hour is unity and cooperation. He was addressing the 5th BIMSTEC Summit, hosted by Sri Lanka yesterday in a virtual address.

He added that the developments in Europe over the last few weeks have raised a question mark on the stability of international order. The Prime Minister said it was time to make the Bay of Bengal the “bridge of connectivity, prosperity and security.” Signing the group charter, PM Modi said India would provide $1 million to the BIMSTEC secretariat to increase its operational budget. “It is important to strengthen the capacity of secretariat…I suggest the secretary-general create a roadmap for the same,” he said.

Another major outcome of the BIMSTEC summit was the adoption of a master plan for transport communication, the MEA said.

“The results of this landmark summit will write a golden chapter in BIMSTEC’s history,” he added. Meanwhile Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. G. L Pieris called for greater economic cooperation among the members. Prof. Peiris also stated that participation and networking among the private sectors in the region is a significant step towards this end and that the organisation should take the lead in building a robust and dynamic private sector network and facilitate the private sectors in this region to work together to enhance the flow of trade and investment.

BIMSTEC, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, is a regional grouping comprising India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.



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