Foreign Policy Watch: The BCIM Corridor

Foreign Policy Watch: The BCIM Corridor

BIMSTEC to adopt Bangkok Vision 2030


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BIMSTEC, Bangkok Vision 2030

Mains level: Revitalizing BIMSTEC

bimstec bangkok

Central Idea

  • The upcoming Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit, scheduled to be held at the end of this year, is set to adopt the Bangkok Vision 2030.
  • This comprehensive document will provide direction to the organization and guide the eminent person group.
  • Additionally, the summit is expected to conclude a marine transport cooperation agreement.

What is Bangkok Vision 2030?

  • The Bangkok Vision 2030, proposed by Thailand, aims to propel BIMSTEC towards a prosperous, resilient, and open region, fostering sustainable and balanced growth.
  • The vision seeks to advance BIMSTEC as a prosperous, resilient, and open region.
  • It emphasizes sustainable and balanced growth, adapting to rapid changes in the regional and global architecture.

Key agenda of the vision document

(1) Synergizing economy and connectivity

  • Thailand, as the lead country in connectivity, aims to create a seamless network of interconnectedness.
  • The 10-year master plan covers various sectors, including roads, railways, civil aviation, maritime transport, and multi-modal infrastructure.
  • The recent agreement on maritime transport cooperation marks a significant milestone.

(2) Synergy with ASEAN

  • Thailand emphasizes the need for synergy between the master plans of BIMSTEC and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • This collaboration aims to promote the growth and development of the entire region.

Understanding BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC consists of seven member countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
  • Its geographical scope covers the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal, creating a contiguous regional unity.
  • BIMSTEC acts as a bridge between South and Southeast Asia, linking the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.
  • The organization focuses on creating an enabling environment for rapid economic development, accelerating social progress, and fostering collaboration on common interests.

Evolution and Expansion of BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC was established in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration with four member states: Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand (BIST-EC).
  • The inclusion of Myanmar in 1997 led to the renaming of the organization as BIMST-EC.
  • Nepal and Bhutan became members in 2004, resulting in the current name, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Institutional Mechanisms of BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC Summit: The highest policymaking body, comprising heads of state/government of member states.
  • Ministerial Meeting: The second apex policy-making forum attended by External/Foreign Ministers.
  • Senior Officials’ Meeting: Representatives from foreign ministries of member states.
  • BIMSTEC Working Group: Monthly meetings attended by ambassadors or representatives at the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka.
  • Business Forum & Economic Forum: Forums encouraging private sector participation.

Potential of BIMSTEC

  • Reinforcement of Relations: BIMSTEC strengthens relationships between countries in South and Southeast Asia, fostering increased trade, investment, and cultural exchanges.
  • Indo-Pacific Epicenter: The Bay of Bengal region has the potential to become the epicentre of the Indo-Pacific idea, facilitating dialogue and engagement among major powers from East and South Asia.
  • Intra-Regional Cooperation: BIMSTEC acts as a bridge between SAARC and ASEAN, providing a platform for member countries to collaborate, promote economic integration, and develop shared goals.
  • Engine of Economic Growth: BIMSTEC’s significant population (1.5 billion) and combined GDP of USD 3.8 trillion make it a driving force for economic growth and cooperation.
  • Facilitating Global Trade: The Bay of Bengal region, facilitated by BIMSTEC, plays a crucial role in global trade, with approximately one-fourth of the world’s traded goods passing through the region.
  • Key Connectivity Projects: BIMSTEC actively participates in projects like the Kaladan Multimodal Project, Asian Trilateral Highway, and BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement to improve connectivity and promote trade within the region.

Significance of BIMSTEC for India

  • Alignment with Core Policies: BIMSTEC aligns with India’s policies of prioritizing neighboring countries, expanding engagement with Southeast Asia, and promoting the development of northeastern states.
  • Countering China’s Influence: BIMSTEC provides India with a platform to counterbalance China’s growing influence in the Bay of Bengal region, ensuring a more balanced regional order.
  • Alternative Engagement Platform: BIMSTEC serves as an alternative platform for India to engage with South Asian countries when progress in SAARC is hindered, fostering regional cooperation and development.

Key challenges with BIMSTEC

  • Very few meetings: Limited progress due to infrequent summits and ministerial meetings.
  • No key player: Varying levels of commitment among member states, with some countries focusing more on ASEAN than BIMSTEC.
  • No specific goal: Balancing cooperation across 14 areas of collaboration and maintaining efficiency in specific focus areas.
  • Individual differences: Addressing conflicts and crises between member nations, such as the Rohingya crisis and border conflicts.
  • Parallel initiatives: Navigating the presence of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Forum, which raises doubts about BIMSTEC’s exclusive potential.
  • Deadlock over geo-economics: Challenges in achieving a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and unfinished projects hinder economic cooperation.

Way forward

  • Effective Implementation: Ensure the effective implementation of the Bangkok Vision 2030, aligning national development plans and establishing monitoring mechanisms to track progress and address challenges.
  • Strengthening Connectivity Initiatives: Prioritize the completion of ongoing connectivity projects like the Kaladan Multimodal Project, Asian Trilateral Highway, and BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement to enhance regional connectivity.
  • Promoting Trade and Economic Cooperation: Foster a conducive environment for trade, remove barriers, and promote seamless movement of goods and services to facilitate trade and economic cooperation within BIMSTEC.
  • Collaboration on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Align the Bangkok Vision 2030 with the SDGs, identify priority areas, and share best practices to promote sustainable and inclusive growth.
  • Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms: Enhance the functioning of BIMSTEC’s institutional mechanisms, regularize scheduling, and strengthen the role of the BIMSTEC Secretariat.
  • Collaboration with External Partners: Explore partnerships with external partners, regional organizations, and international development agencies to leverage resources and technical assistance for priority projects.

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Foreign Policy Watch: The BCIM Corridor

[pib] BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BIMSTEC TTF

Mains level: BIMSTEC

The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM has approved a Memorandum of Association (MoA) by India for the establishment of the BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF).

What is BIMSTEC?

  • The BIMSTEC formed in 1997 is an international organisation of seven South Asian and Southeast Asian nations, housing 1.73 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.8 trillion (2021).
  • The BIMSTEC member states – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand – are among the countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal.
  • Leadership is rotated in alphabetical order of country names. The permanent secretariat is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation (c. 2018), also referred to as the mini SAARC.


  • The agreement was signed by the BIMSTEC member countries at the 5th BIMSTEC Summit held at Colombo, Sri Lanka on 30th March, 2022.
  • The main objectives of the BIMSTEC TTF are to coordinate, facilitate and strengthen cooperation in technology transfer among the BIMSTEC Member States.
  • It aims to promote the transfer of technologies, sharing of experiences and capacity building.
  • The TTF shall have a Governing Board and the overall control of activities of the TTF shall be vested in the Governing Board.
  • The Governing Board shall consist of one nominee from each Member State.

Expected outcomes

The expected outcomes of the BIMSTEC TTF are:

  • Databank of technologies available in BIMSTEC Countries,
  • Repository of information on good practices in the areas of technology transfer management, standards, accreditation, metrology, testing and calibration facilities,
  • Capacity building, sharing of experiences and good practices in development, and
  • Transfer and use of technologies among BIMSTEC countries.


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