THIRD BIMSTEC SUMMIT CONCLUDES
1. The Hon’ble Prime Minister and delegation arrived in Paro on 06 March 2014 following the conclusion of the Third BIMSTEC Summit on 04 March 2014. At the Summit the leaders from the seven BIMSTEC countries reviewed the progress made and agreed to further intensify and deepen cooperation in all areas of activities within the framework of BIMSTEC, including strengthening institutional mechanism. The Leaders also called for the early finalization of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area preferably by the end of 2014.
2. One of the main outcomes of the Summit was the establishment of the BISMTEC Permanent Secretariat in Dhaka, Bangladesh to oversee the work of the group on a full-time basis. This would also allow the group to better coordinate and function more effectively. The Secretariat is expected to come into operation from 01 May 2014. Ambassador Sumith Nakandala from Sri Lanka has been appointed as the first Secretary General to head the Secretariat.
3. At the Summit, in the presence of the Leaders, the Ministers for Foreign/External Affairs signed three agreements, namely, the “Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat”, the “Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory (BCIO) and the BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Commission (BCIC)” and the “Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Weather and Climate Centre in India”. The BCIO, which is to be established in Bhutan is expected to promote Cultural Industries as a strategy for poverty reduction and community vitalization in the BIMSTEC region. Bhutan has also offered to host the Fifth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting on Energy in 2015.
4. In his Summit statement the Hon’ble Prime Minister stressed on the need to capitalize on the enormous potential of the region for the benefit of its people. The Prime Minister said that though BIMSTEC had been making steady progress, much still remains to be done especially in terms of economic integration and trade facilitation which continues to remain a priority for the region. The Prime Minister called on member countries to hasten with the regional transformative actions which are vital to remain globally competitive.
5. Following the conclusion of the Summit, Myanmar formally handed over the Chairmanship of BIMSTEC to Nepal.
6. On the side lines of the Summit, the Hon’ble Prime Minister also held bilateral meetings with the leaders of India, Nepal and Thailand during which wide ranging discussions were held on issues of common interests. On 05 March 2014 the Hon’ble Prime Minister met with the President, Speaker and other senior Ministers of the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The discussions included promotion of bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the areas of agriculture, trade, tourism, civil aviation and health. The Leaders also exchanged views on regional and international issues. The Hon’ble Prime Minister also met with Aung Sang Sui Kyi, Leader of the Opposition in the lower house and Nobel laureate.