Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said the strong political determination and innovative initiatives of the member states will make the Bimstec more effective in the coming days.
“Let’s reaffirm our firm conviction to intensify our efforts in realizing the objective and purposes of BIMSTEC through working collectively for the betterment of the people of the region,”he said while addressing a reception marking the 22nd Bimstec Day celebration at its Secretariat on Tuesday night.Bimstec Secretary General Ambassador M Shahidul Islam also spoke at the reception attended by acting Foreign Secretary Mahbub UzZaman, diplomats stationed in Dhaka, senior journalists.
Dr Momen said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed for restructure the existing 14 areas of cooperation under three main priority clusters namely 'sustainable development, 'security and stability’ and 'people to people contact'.
“This will bring synergy, focus and speed in the Bimstec process,” he said adding that in line with the commitments made by the leaders, they should focus more on the areas of trade and investment, connectivity, energy and security, agriculture, tourism, climate change and disaster management and people-to-people contacts to garner visible outcome.
He said a sustainable and peaceful Bay of Bengal region could be ensured only when all these areas will produce results.
Dr Momen said despite the fact that Bimstec accounts for US$4 trillion of global economy and intra-regional trade among its members has increased to US$ 83.9 billion in 2017 up from us 72 billion in 2016, the trade figure within the region is still low, only around 5 percent compared to other regional organizations.
“May be FTA within the region may help improve the situation. Till today, we do not have free mobility of recourses, I mean, capital, technology and manpower,” said the Foreign Minister adding that they have to work harder to create conducive environment in the region for a better world.He said Bimstec represents a unique connectivity between South and South-East Asia; a region characterized by shared histories, values and ways of life. It provides a strong platform for common aspiration for peace and development of this region.
“Bangladesh is always committed to regional cooperation,” Dr Momen said adding that it was Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman, who always dreamt of working together with the neighbours.
Under the leadership of his daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Foreign Minister said, Bangladesh continues to pursue regional cooperation as an engine for sustainable growth and economic integration.