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BIMSTEC members’ nations to have Coastal Shipping Agreement soon

The Bay of Bengal initiative of Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic cooperation ( BIMSTEC) member countries that met in Kathmandu last week  decided to speed up their efforts  to conclude  Coastal Shipping Agreement and Motor Vehicle agreement between member countries as early as possible.

 A Declaration issued at the end of the two day meeting on Transport and communication including connectivity said the Agreement on Coastal Shipping and Motor Vehicles should be forged as early as possible taking into account the special circumstances and needs of the member states. 

For example states like Bhutan and Nepal are land locked need a arrangement with the port of a neighboring country for existence. The other members states of the conclave are India,. Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

The meeting reiterated its resolve to establish seamless multi-modal transportation linkages and smooth, synchronized and simplified transit facilities through the development, expansion and modernization of highways, railways, waterways, sea routes, airways in the region. 

The meeting noted with satisfaction the preparation of the draft BIMSTEC Master Plan on Transport Connectivity and call for its early adoption and thank the Asian Development Bank for providing support to prepare the Master Plan, 

The meeting allotted the task of working out the modalities  for its implementation to   the BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Working Group (BTCWG)  The Group should give due attention to the special circumstances and needs of the Member States. 

We agree that the Master Plan would serve as a strategic document that guides actions and promotes synergy among various connectivity frameworks, such as the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity 2025 (MPAC 2025), the Ayeyawady - Chao Phraya- Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), to achieve enhanced connectivity and sustainable development in our region. 

The meeting also decided to establish a Working Group to deal with information technology and communications related matters with a view to provide greater access, more affordable and high-speed internet and mobile communications to the peoples of the region. In this regard, we welcome the offer of the Government of India to host a BIMSTEC Ministerial Conclave at the India Mobile Congress 2018 being held in New Delhi from October 25-27 on the theme "New Digital Horizons: Connect, Create, Innovate”, and encourage all Member States to participate in it.

 On Trade and Investment, the meeting decided to renew their commitment to an early conclusion of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations, and direct the BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting (TEMM) and its subsidiary bodies including the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) to expedite finalization of all related Agreements of the BIMSTEC FTA as early as possible.

The meeting expressed its satisfaction on the progress of negotiation on the Agreement on Trade in Goods and the Agreement on Customs Cooperation and also direct our respective Ministries/Agencies to participate regularly in TNC Meetings. 

It agreed to revitalize the activities of BIMSTEC Business Forum and BIMSTEC Economic Forum to further strengthen Government–Private sector cooperation for the promotion of trade and investment and task the Expert Group on BIMSTEC Visa Matters to continue negotiation for finalization of the modalities for the BIMSTEC Visa Facilitation.


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