Aug 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka's State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake has urged the Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) nations to expedite negotiations on the free trade area framework.
Addressing the 15th Ministerial Meeting of the BIMSTEC in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 11 August 2017, State Minister Senanayake said that in order for the BIMSTEC to become a viable regional organization connecting South Asia and South East Asia, the negotiations related to the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area should be expedited.
The State Minister added that the relevance of BIMSTEC may truly be envisioned only after the proposed FTA comes to fruition.
BIMSTEC member countries -Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Thailand have agreed to establish the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement in order to stimulate trade and investment in the parties, and attract outsiders to trade with and invest in BIMSTEC at a higher level.
The State Minister also pointed out the need to focus on the growth of the BIMSTEC economies taking cognizance of United Nation's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as the guiding principles in the BIMSTEC collective march towards achieving growth and development.
The Ministerial Meeting marked the 20th Anniversary of the BIMSTEC and provided an opportunity for the leaders to take stock of the achievements and failures of the BIMSTEC during the last twenty years. Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand attended the meeting.
During his stay in Nepal, State Minister Senanayake had bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Debua, the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Krishna Bahadur Mahara and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.