State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has put emphasis on implementation of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area (FTA) as it is a much-needed element of regional integration and cooperation.
"Though the Framework Agreement on the FTA was signed in 2004, much remained to be done to implement the FTA due to lack of progress in finalization and conclusion of six constituent legal instruments", he said.
Despite COVID 19 impediments, Alam said, two important documents like the 'Constituent Agreement on Trade in Goods' and the 'Text on BIMSTEC Rules of Origin' are almost at the final stage as these two documents are fundamental to start operation of FTA.
The state minister also hoped for adopting the BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Master Plan in upcoming 5th BIMSTEC Summit, which will put new impetus in implementation of multi-modal connectivity projects connecting the member states towards regional integration in the Bay of Bengal Region.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States five from South Asia - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia - Myanmar and Thailand.
Recalling that Bangladesh is one of the four BIMSTEC founding members established on 6 June in 1997, Alam said the regional platform now has a wider range of areas of cooperation starting from trade, investment, connectivity, and energy to cultural cooperation.
Nearly 90 participants including academicians, researchers, government officials, development workers and students joined virtually the inaugural session of the forum under the theme of "Building a Resilient Bay of Bengal Region".