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BIMSTEC member countries Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal apart from India have discussed a draft pact to promote coastal trade and shipping, the government said today. BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries met in New Delhi this week to discuss modalities for promoting coastal shipping in the region. "In this first meeting of the Working Group on November 27 and 28, member countries discussed the draft text of BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement drafted by the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India," the ministry said in a statement. Once the agreement is ratified by the member countries and becomes operational, a lot of cargo movement between the nations can be done through the cost effective, environment friendly and faster coastal shipping route. The objective of the agreement is to facilitate coastal shipping in the region, thereby giving a boost to trade between the member countries. "The agreement would apply to coastal shipping, that is shipping within 20 nautical miles of the coastline.
The requirements for movement of vessels in this part of the sea are different from standard requirements of deep sea shipping," the statement said. Coastal ship movements require smaller vessels and lesser draft, and therefore, involve lower costs. The meeting of the Working Group is a follow up of the BIMSTEC leaders' call at the retreat hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Goa in October 2016, to enhance connectivity in the region.
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