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5th BIMSTEC Summit

The 5th Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was hosted by the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in and from Colombo, Sri Lanka, in hybrid mode on 30th March 2022. The Summit was preceded by the 18th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting and the 22nd BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting. It was held under the theme “BIMSTEC – Towards a Resilient Region, Prosperous Economies, Healthy Peoples”.

The Summit was chaired by His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka. Hon’ble Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering delivered his statement at the Summit virtually from Thimphu. Lyonchhen stressed on the importance of trade facilitation and digital connectivity for realizing the economic potential of the region. He said that it would be unprecedented if BIMSTEC could be declared the first “free internet” region. As a lead country, Bhutan will push forward for the regional framework as well as international obligations for a collective response to climate change. All BIMSTEC Leaders attended the Summit in virtual mode.

BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers attended the Summit in person. Hon’ble Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji led the Bhutanese delegation to the 18th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting. Kutshab Rinchen Kuentsyl, Ambassador-designate of Bhutan to Sri Lanka, led the Bhutanese delegation to the 22nd BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting.

During the Summit, BIMSTEC Leaders signed the BIMSTEC Charter, and witnessed the signing of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility, and the MoU on Mutual Cooperation between Diplomatic Academies/Training Institutions of BIMSTEC Member States.

The Summit adopted the BIMSTEC Masterplan on Transport Connectivity, and the Rationalized Areas of cooperation under BIMSTEC. The 14 areas of cooperation under BIMSTEC have been rationalized to 7 areas of cooperation. Bhutan is now the lead country for Environment and Climate Change. The Chairmanship of BIMSTEC was handed over to Thailand from Sri Lanka at the Summit.

On the sidelines of the Summit and its preceding meetings, Hon’ble Lyonpo had fruitful discussions with Foreign Ministers of other BIMSTEC Countries. At the bilateral meeting with H.E. Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, various matters including hydropower cooperation and trade were discussed. Hon’ble Lyonpo also paid a courtesy call on the President of Sri Lanka.

After the Summit concluded, Lyonpo met with about hundred Bhutanese students studying in Sri Lanka and informed them about the initiatives and focus of the government particularly in rebuilding the economy. Lyonpo informed the students that His Majesty The King is working selflessly for the Bhutanese people, and encouraged them to study hard and serve the country with loyalty, dedication and intelligence.

BIMSTEC was formed on 6 June 1997 to enhance economic cooperation between the countries of Southeast Asia and South Asia around the Bay of Bengal. It is a regional grouping that encompasses about 1.5 billion people and a combined GDP of over USD $ 2.7 trillion. Bhutan became a member of BIMSTEC in 2004.

30 March 2022

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