Throw some light on the importance of BIMSTEC for India in promoting regional cooperation and integration in neighbourhood.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), is a regional grouping consisting of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives.

It is a connecting link between Neighbourhood First Policy and Act East Policy of India. It also acts as a bridge between South Asia (SAARC) and East Asia (ASEAN).

Importance in promoting regional cooperation:

  • Disaster management in Bay of Bengal.
  • Cooperation on wildlife conservation and protection.
  • Tackling insurgency in northeast and Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh can play important role in its stabilization.
  • Proposal for FTA agreement.
  • Great scope for freedom of movement of people. People to people exchanges for tourism, health, education (Buddha circuit).

Integration in the neighbourhood:

  • BBIN, BCIM connectivity agreements.
  • I-M-T trilateral highway.
  • Transit agreement with Bangladesh (waterways, railways).
  • Connecting Northeast with Myanmar (Kaladan multi-modal project).

Thus, given SAARC being in doldrums, BIMSTEC can offer forward movement in creating stable, integrated neighbourhood.

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