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Topic : BIMSTEC Charter: A Milestone for Bay of Bengal Cooperation

GS-2 Mains :IR

Revision Notes

BIMSTEC Comes of Age

  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) can now admit new members and observers following the entry into force of its first charter.


  • Established in 1997 (Bangkok Declaration).
  • 7 Member Countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand.
  • Secretariat: Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Significance:
    • 22% of world population.
    • Combined GDP of $3.6 trillion.

About the BIMSTEC Charter:

  • Establishes a legal and institutional framework for cooperation among member states.
  • Grants BIMSTEC a legal personality.
  • Enables:
    • Admission of new members and observers.
    • Negotiations and agreements with other countries/regional organizations.

Key Charter Points:

  • Decision Making: Consensus among members.
  • New Member Admission:
    • Clear process.
    • Geographical contiguity or primary dependence on Bay of Bengal for trade/transport.
  • Leadership:
    • Summits every two years.
    • Rotational chairmanship.
    • Ministerial meetings can set further criteria.


  • Both focus on overlapping regions, but differ in scope:
    • SAARC (1985): Purely South Asian.
    • BIMSTEC: Inter-regional, connecting South Asia and ASEAN.
  • BIMSTEC avoids the India-Pakistan rivalry that burdens SAARC.
  • India is accused by Nepal of neglecting SAARC in favor of BIMSTEC (due to Pakistan’s membership).

SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation):

  • Established in 1985.
  • Secretariat: Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • Aims: Accelerate economic and social development through regional cooperation.
  • Members: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

The Way Forward:

  • The BIMSTEC Charter signifies a shared commitment to regional cooperation in:
    • Security
    • Connectivity
    • Trade
    • Agriculture
    • Environment
    • Science & Technology
    • People-to-People Contact
  • It is a crucial step towards:
    • Promoting regional cooperation.
    • Enabling agreements with other countries and regional organizations.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bimstec-acquires-legal-personality-after-charter-comes-into-force/article68204638.ece


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