4 nations agree to create fund
A multi-billion dollar fund might be established to pull in resources from various parties to set up a thriving economic belt connecting Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar.
About 55 percent of the fund might come from various multilateral development partners while the rest might be borne by the four governments and the private sector.
It will cost about $22 billion to build the proposed Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC), according to an initial estimate.
The figure is not final and will require more in depth study to reach a final estimation, according to officials from the foreign ministry who attended the two-day meeting in Cox's Bazar.
Citing an Asian Development Bank study, the Bangladesh delegation, led by foreign secretary Shahidul Haque, told the meeting that about $700 million will be required for connecting Myanmar and India through road network.
The two-day meeting concluded yesterday with the signing of a joint minutes. It was signed by team leaders from four countries. Shahidul Haque signed on behalf of the host side.
The minutes include introduction, vision, major priorities and way forward.
Under the vision, it was said that the corridor will help the four countries economically through connectivity. The economic corridor will play an important role in maintaining peace and security in the region, it said.
The second inter-governmental meeting came up with a decision to prepare a roadmap within next six months for the proposed corridor.
High officials of the foreign ministry said the four countries will prepare a combined report in the next six months. The report will be placed in the next inter-governmental ministerial meeting to be held in India next year.
The meeting decided that the Joint Study Group (JSG) will prepare four country reports focusing on four areas of institutional development, for example, objectives of the BCIM Economic Corridor, concept, scope and elements, principles and modalities of cooperation, and framework of cooperation.
Reports will also be prepared on seven thematic areas: connectivity, energy, investment and financing, trade in goods and services and trade facilitation, social and human development and poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and people-to people contact.
At the Cox's Bazar meeting, the JSG of the four countries presented their respective country reports. Detailed discussions were held on those reports, said a foreign ministry official.
During the JSG meeting, 17 representatives from Bangladesh, five from Myanmar and India each and 15 from China took part.
Now the four countries will prepare combined reports on each area based on the four country reports in the next six months, said the official.
Bangladesh will prepare a combined report on the framework of the economic corridor and sustainable development.
India will prepare a report on energy and trade while China on connectivity and investment.
The next inter-governmental meeting in India will hold final discussions on the reports before they are submitted to the BCIM governments.
The meeting minutes said each report is expected to identify actionable areas and concrete projects which will focus on realising the potentials of the corridor and also on deepening BCIM economy-wide cooperation, said the foreign ministry official.
The discussion at the meeting revolved round the K2K (Kunming-Ruili-Bhamo-Lashio-Mandalay-Tamu-Imphal-Sylhet-Dhaka-Kolkata) route, which is 2,800 km long and part of the historic Silk Route, and it offers the best condition to be used as the corridor.
With roads, railways, airlines, water routes, telecommunication networks and energy pipelines, the corridor will connect south-western China, eastern and north-eastern India, Myanmar and Bangladesh to form a thriving economic belt.
Experts say the corridor can give much-needed boost to the intra-regional trade, as the intra-BCIM trade has remained fairly low.
The trade potential of the corridor stands at $132 billion, according to a study by Research and Information System for Developing Countries in India.