Feb 16, Colombo: The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) today convened 'Trincomalee Consultations', a two-day conference participated by the countries in the Bay of Bengal, which are dependent on the bay for their trade and other interactions.
Bay of Bengal countries India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka attend the conference while Japan and Norway are also taking part in the deliberations, being held at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo on February 16 and 17, 2017.
Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando declared open the the conference, co-hosted by Carnegie India.
India External Affairs Ministry Joint Secretary Santosh Jha and Japan Foreign Affairs Ministry Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department Deputy Director General Noriyuki Shikata attended the event.
Among those present will be PF Founder Milinda Moragoda and PF Executive Director Luxman Siriwardena. The regional event, Colombo Consultations was organized by PF Centre for Indo-Lanka Relations Director Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage.
Following the opening session chaired by PF Chairman Bernard Goonetilleke, papers will be presented on the three themes of the conference by Carnegie India Director Dr. C. Raja Mohan, Abu Saeed Khan (Bangladesh), Dr. Satoru Nagao (Japan), Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, Rohan Masakorala (Sri Lanka) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Secretary General Ambassador Sumith Nakandala.
The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world and it covers an area of 2,172, 000 square kilometers. The bay boasts of a population of about 1.8 billion or nearly 25 percent of the world population. Many large rivers and tributaries flow into the bay depositing sediments, which contain commercially exploitable minerals as well as hydrocarbons.
The PF, in cooperation with Carnegie India and with the support of Japan and Norway, has launched the Trincomalee Consultations to focus on three broad areas: (i) Geo-strategic significance and regional maritime security demands in the Bay of Bengal, (ii) Transportation and economic connectivity in the Bay of Bengal: Way ahead for enhanced cooperation and (iii) Strategic importance and potential for development of the Trincomalee Harbor as a hub for the Bay of Bengal region.
The conference is a Track 1.5 exercise, attended by high-level government and non-governmental representatives from Bangladesh, India, Japan, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Among the institutions that would attend the event are the BIMSTEC, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Carnegie India, Vivekananda International Foundation and Tokyo Foundation.
The two-day conference, launched with opening statements by Governor of the Eastern Province Austin Fernando, Joint Secretary (Policy Planning) of the Ministry of External Affairs of India Santhosh Jha and Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Noriyuki Shikata, is expected to make proposals for closer cooperation among the Bay of Bengal community by focusing on strategic importance of the bay, making proposals for connectivity and developing Trincomalee Harbor as a hub for the Bay of Bengal region.
By launching this initiative, the PF seeks to contribute to the government strategy for developing Trincomalee as a regional commercial and shipping hub to serve the Bay of Bengal region. This in turn will result in economic growth and prosperity of the Eastern Province, utilizing the human and other resources in that province as well as the adjacent provinces.