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BIMSTEC members call for seamless connectivity, poverty eradication


ANI Kathmandu [Nepal]
The member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) have agreed for establishing seamless connectivity within the region and committed to work for the eradication of poverty by 2030.
As per the Kathmandu Declaration, the BIMSTEC countries reiterated their resolve to establish seamless multi-modal transportation linkages and smooth, synchronised and simplified transit facilities through the development, expansion and modernization of highways, railways, waterways, sea routes, airways in the region and direct respective authorities to speed up their efforts to conclude the BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and the BIMSTEC Motor Vehicle Agreement as early as possible, taking into account the special circumstances and needs of the member countries.
The member countries were satisfied with the preparation of the draft BIMSTEC Master Plan on Transport Connectivity and called for its early adoption and thanked the Asian Development Bank for providing support to prepare the Master Plan and task the BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Working Group (BTCWG) to work out the modalities for its implementation, giving due attention to the special circumstances and needs of the BIMSTEC countries.
"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 declaration added.
The BIMSTEC countries 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, they also welcomed the Indian government's offer to host a BIMSTEC Ministerial Conclave at the India Mobile Congress 2018 scheduled to be held in New Delhi from October 25-27 on the theme "New Digital Horizons: Connect, Create, Innovate".
Recognising that eradication of poverty is the greatest regional challenge in realisation of development objectives, the member countries also expressed their firm commitment to work together for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, acknowledging that enhanced inter-linkages and inter-dependence within the economies and societies in the BIMSTEC member states provide greater opportunity to advance regional cooperation.
They underlined the importance of multi-dimensional connectivity, which promotes synergy among connectivity frameworks in the region, as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity.
The member countries reiterated their commitment to the eradication poverty in the Bay of Bengal Region by 2030 in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and called for the effective implementation of the BIMSTEC Poverty Plan of Action and for gearing up efforts of all sectors to contribute to the over-arching goal of poverty alleviation.
The statement continued, "(We) express a commitment to nurturing our workforce by taking concrete measures to provide decent job opportunities for them through increased investment in service and productive sectors of national economy."
The member countries recognised the special needs and circumstances of the least developed and land-locked developing countries in the region and underlined the necessity to provide meaningful support to their development process. They reaffirmed their strong commitment to making BIMSTEC a dynamic, effective and result-oriented regional organisation for promoting a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal Region through meaningful cooperation and deeper integration.
On trade, the BIMSTEC member states renewed their commitment to an early conclusion of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations, and directed the BIMSTEC Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting (TEMM) and its subsidiary bodies including the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) to expedite finalisation of all related agreements of the BIMSTEC FTA as early as possible. They expressed their satisfaction on the progress of negotiation on the agreement on trade in goods and the agreement on customs cooperation and also directed their respective ministries and agencies to participate regularly in TNC meetings.
The member countries also agreed to revitalise 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 finalisation of the modalities for the BIMSTEC visa facilitation.
The member states also welcomed the offer of India to host a BIMSTEC Startup Conclave in December this year, and encouraged all to participate in the same.
In the technology sector, the BIMSTEC countries agreed to enhance cooperation for development, access and sharing of affordable technologies - including for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for promoting sustainable development across sectors and welcome the efforts of the member states towards the signing of the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility in Sri Lanka.
They also agreed to focus on cooperation in human resources development and education for the advancement of technology in the region, keeping in mind the need to address the disruptive impacts of technology.
On disaster management, the member countries called for encouraging closer cooperation in disaster management through sharing of information, including early warning system, adoption of preventive measures, rehabilitation and capacity building and agree to build on the existing capacities in the region and decide to establish an Inter-governmental Expert Group to develop a plan of action to improve preparedness and coordination for responding to natural disasters in the Bay of Bengal Region.
In the fisheries sector, the BIMSTEC members stressed on continued cooperation in conservation, management and sustainable use of marine resources in the region, agree to deepen cooperation in fisheries to ensure food security and improve livelihoods of people in our region and task the relevant national agencies to explore the possibility of meaningful collaboration to promote sustainable marine fisheries and direct the relevant authorities to explore how the landlocked member states can benefit from inland fisheries.

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First Published: Aug 31 2018 | 10:26 PM IST

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