Kathmandu, September 4 (newsin.asia): The Foreign Ministers of countries which are part of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) have approved, in principle, 167 connectivity projects costing US$ 50 billion based on an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study, The Kathmandu Post reported.
The member states are developing a BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Master Plan, with a goal to complete it by the end of September 2018, Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told the Post.
“Several multilateral donor agencies are interested to put money in this master plan,” Gyawali said. “We have received interest from ADB, the World Bank and other multilateral agencies to push these projects.”
The approval has been given on the basis of an ADB study which included transportation and cross-border facilitation, multi-modal transport and logistics, infrastructure development, aviation, maritime transport, human resources development, as well as communication linkages and networking.
The BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistic Study or BTILS was updated by the ADB in 2014. Of 167 projects, the study has prioritized 66 projects.
During the ministerial meeting, Gyawali stressed the need to deepen, rather than proliferate, areas of cooperation among the member states, and called on his counterparts to focus on connectivity, trade, tourism, energy, and agriculture, according to the Post.
Wednesday’s meeting also underlined the establishment of BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat in Bangladesh; BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory or BCIO in Bhutan; and BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate or BCWC in India as some of the key achievements in institutional development.
Representatives from the member states also endorsed the text of draft Summit Declaration and recommended that to the heads of state for approval.
In line with the BIMSTEC practice, the foreign minister of Nepal handed over the chairmanship of the BIMSTEC ministerial meeting to the state minister for foreign affairs of Sri Lanka, where the 17th ministerial meeting will be held next year.
(The Featured image at the top shows the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers at Kathmandu in August 2018)