Fourth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation or BIMSTEC summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 30-31August 2018. Representing Bhutan, Chief Advisor of the Interim Government, Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk, attended the inaugural ceremony of the summit.
The summit this year is themed “Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal Region.” Although the Interim Government is mandated only to carry out the routine functions of the Government and not entitled to take policy decisions or enter into any agreement with foreign governments or organizations, the Chief Advisor participated in the Summit on an ad referendum basis to avoid further delay of the summit. Any decision and outcome documents of the Summit will be subject to endorsement by the newly elected government.
Speaking at the summit, Chief Advisor, Lyonpo Tshering Wangchuk said that shared geography, history, culture and values provide a compelling setting to work together for common good. He said, “During the last two decades, our collective efforts have led to positive outcomes in political, economic, social and cultural spheres. While all of us agree that we can and must do more, we also recognize that there is a need for more coherence in our actions.”
For the prosperity and peace in the region, the Chief Advisor also shared few priority areas for regional cooperation such as the need to promote trade in the region, regional digital connectivity, need to address security threats through dialogue and cooperation and the need of foundation for regional understanding and collaboration. The Chief Advisor also offered Bhutan’s commitment to preservation and protection of the environment.
Prime minister of the host country Nepal stressed that BIMSTEC Member States should accord top priority to take the people out from the clutches of poverty and that no one should be left behind while accelerating economic development. He also said the region has been adversely impacted by climate change. He giving importance to youth and children for a prosperous future and remaining united in defeating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Heads of the Government of all the seven BIMSTEC Member States addressed the Summit. Summit is the highest policy making decision making body in the BIMSTEC process which is comprised of Head of Government of Member States. Three Summit meetings have been held till date in 2004, 2008 and 2014.
The leaders of delegation jointly called on the President of Nepal. On the sidelines of the Summit, Chief Advisor also met with the leaders of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Nepal.
The Summit witnessed signing of Memorandum of Understanding for Establishment of Grid Interconnection which will facilitate greater cooperation in energy sector and adopted the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit Declaration. The Summit emphasized connectivity, tradeand investment, energy and tourism as keys to economic integration.