BIMSTEC stands for Bay Of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation. It consists of 7 countries: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan. All these countries are dependent on the Bay of Bengal in some way or the other. It was founded in 1997 in Bangkok, Thailand. The group has declared 14 crucial priority sectors for co-operation. A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is also in the pipeline.

Significance for India:

India has been focusing on it’s Look East Policy. BIMSTEC forms a very crucial part of it. Also, BIMSTEC contains important regional partners of India. Because of the increasing alliance between Pakistan and China, BIMSTEC forms an effective counter in terms of geopolitics.

BIMSTEC has 3 major projects under development regarding India. These are 1. Kaladan Multimodal project 2. Asian Trilateral Highway 3. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) have signed a pact for the movement of goods and vehicles among them.

Challenges Faced by India in BIMSTEC:

India’s projects with its neighbours have been marred with slow mechanisms, bureaucratic hurdles, etc which, in turn, have resulted in slow delivery and overshot deadlines. This has painted a bad image of India. This is one of the reasons why our neighbours prefer China over India. China, being a single-party government, offers faster implementation, construction, and delivery of projects. Nepal and Sri-Lanka have started inclining more towards China because of this. Myanmar has already signed some projects with India.

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What India needs to work on for a better future:

In order to emerge as a true regional leader, India will have to step up the delivery of its projects. Bureaucratic hurdles, complex paperwork, etc. need to be improved. Unless such course-corrections are made, India, though well-intentioned, will not be able to counter the machinery established by China.

Photo credits: Michel Temer via Flickr under CC 2.0

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  • Reetesh Pal, Sep 15, 2021 @ 11:08 am Reply

    Bimstec stands at an important juncture of neighbourhood first policy and India’s Act East policy. Its relevance is driven by two factors. First, the resin has many economic potential rewards to the regional connectivity it provides. Secondly, it is very important to check China’s geopolitics for this reason.

    We can maintain good relations and indulge ourselves in the development projects in BIMSTEC.

  • shubham thapliyal, Aug 13, 2019 @ 11:08 pm Reply

    To become a regional leader ,India need to have a strong neighbourhood policy as most of our smaller neighbours are inclined towards the another economic giant,China without realising the debt they would have in future.BIMSTEC provides an ideal platform to improve our relations with neighours.
    1) It can be used as a platform to set up indian markets in neighbouring countries and boost our trade and energy sector.
    2) economic support can be given to member countries to boost infrastructural development there.
    3) these small regional neighbours can be helpful in countering the increasing China Pak alliance and also to combat terrorism and drug trafficking.
    4) humanitarian assistance during natural disasters would give support to all BIMSTEC countries.
    5) tourism sector can be used to connect cultures of member countries and would provide peaceful platform for development.

  • Lokesh bhati, Jun 14, 2019 @ 4:05 am Reply

    India always have a neighbourhood first policy. Bimstec is also a contribution to that. We can have so many benefits with it, a few of them are as follows..
    1. It will help all the nations in making economic benefits. Which will lead to a peaceful bay of bengal.
    2. We can have good trade agreement and can make others more dependent on us which will strengthen us geopolitically.
    3.when we will have good ties and trade with neighbours. We can stand more strong against china.
    4.we all know the string of pearls which china is making so it can be a good action against it..

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