Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today thanked Bangladesh for hosting the Bimstec permanent secretariat and termed the opportunity as an “important milestone”.
“The permanent secretariat that we are establishing in Dhaka will be an important milestone in the evolution of this group and I thank Bangladesh for offering to host it,” the Indian premier said while addressing the third Bimstec Summit in Myanmar’s capital of Nay Pyi Taw.
“I hope the setting up of the secretariat will also enable us to focus on areas that are particularly critical of realising the Bimstec vision,” he said.
Trade and economic cooperation should figure high on the group’s list of priorities, Singh said.
It should aim for an early conclusion of the Bimstec Free Trade Agreement for trade in goods and extend it to investment and services, he added.
“Most of us here are connected with each other through one or more regional economic arrangements and it should not be difficult for us to conclude one for Bimstec,” Singh said during his address.
“Energy should be another area of priority for all of us. As India and some of its neighbours are getting linked by energy grids, we are already experiencing the regional and national benefits of energy cooperation,” the Indian prime minister said.
Bimstec must, therefore, connect each other through transmission highways and gas and oil pipelines, while also examining opportunities for cooperation in renewable energy sources, he further said.
The Indian premier stressed the need to identify and implement priority projects of regional importance from the comprehensive study prepared by Asian Development Bank on Bimstec Transport Infrastructure and Logistics Study.
“Whether it is the security of sea lanes of communication in our region, or the persisting challenges of terrorism and transnational crimes, the nature of the evolving threat of terrorism in the Bimstec region has imparted greater urgency for stronger cooperation to counter it, he said.