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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