You are here: Home » News-IANS » Diplomacy
Business Standard

BIMSTEC leaders set year-end deadline for trade pact

IANS  |  Nay Pyi Taw 

Mindful of the delays, the two-day BIMSTEC Summit concluded in this Myanmar capital Tuesday with the leaders now setting a year-end deadline for a free trade pact among the seven-nation grouping.

In a declaration, the leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, directed the negotiating committee to expedite work for concluding the Agreement on Trade in Goods by the end of 2014.

In 2004, the finance and trade ministers of the BIMSTEC countries had agreed to establish a free trade area by June 2012. A few years later, the deadline was advanced to June 2010.

But differences over issues such as tariff lines and quantum of concessions have kept the proposed pact from being inked.

The agreement, when signed, will lead to reduced tariff on commerce among the member countries as also liberalise trade in goods, services and investment.

Addressing the summit earlier, Manmohan Singh said an early conclusion of the trade pact will help member nations - which together account for 20 percent of the global population and $2.5 trillion in GDP - realise the full potential of cooperation.

"Trade and economic cooperation should figure high on our list of priorities," the prime minister told the summit of BIMSTEC that comprises India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

"We should aim for an early conclusion of the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement for trade in goods and also extend it to investment and services," Manmohan Singh added.

"Most of us here are connected with each other through one or more regional economic arrangements and it should not be difficult for us to conclude one for BIMSTEC."

The grouping comprises India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

The declaration also said the trade committee must continue its efforts for early finalization of the agreement on services and investments, besides the pacts on settlements of disputes and assistance in customs matters.

Sri Lankan diplomat Sumith Nakandala, a former deputy high commissioner to India, was named the first secretary general of BIMSTEC, which will have its permanent secretariat in Dhaka.

The secretariat will function from May.

The declaration expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation among the security agencies of member countries and called for early conclusion of a convention among them on combating international crime.

The declaration also called for cooperation in areas such as agriculture, fisheries, horticulture, tourism, disaster management, climate change, healthcare, people-to-people exchange and poverty reduction.

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Tue, March 04 2014. 13:12 IST