New Delhi, March 30: Stressing that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has raised a question mark over stability of international order, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for greater cooperation among BIMSTEC nations and said it has become essential to give more priority to “our regional security”.
In his opening remarks at the fifth BIMSTEC Summit being held online, Modi said that with the region facing challenges of health and economic security, the need of the hour is unity and cooperation.
“Today is the time to make the Bay of Bengal bridge of connectivity, bridge of prosperity, bridge of security,” he said.
Modi said India will provide USD 1 million in financial aid to augment the operational budget of the BIMSTEC secretariat.
He said the region has not remained untouched by today’s challenging global scenario.
“Our economies, our people, are still suffering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“It has become important to make BIMSTEC regional cooperation more active,” he said.
Noting that the BIMSTEC charter is being adopted at the Summit, he said this is an important step in the direction of establishing an institutional architecture.
Modi said the results of this landmark summit will write a golden chapter in the BIMSTEC’s history.
It is also important to enhance the capacity of the BIMSTEC Secretariat to meet our expectations, Modi said and suggested to the BIMSTEC Secretary General to make a roadmap to achieve this goal.
The prime minister asserted that it is necessary to make early progress on the proposal of BIMSTEC FTA to enhance mutual trade among member states.
“We should also increase exchanges between entrepreneurs and startups of our countries. Along with this, we should also try to adopt international norms in the field of trade facilitation,” he told the BIMSTEC leaders.
Underlining that BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate is an important organisation for cooperation in disaster management, especially disaster risk reduction, Modi sought the collaboration of BIMSTEC nations to make this more active.
India is ready to contribute USD 3 million to restart the work of this Centre, he said.
Besides India, the BIMSTEC comprises Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
The Summit will adopt the ‘BIMSTEC Charter’ which will give the grouping an international identity and lay out the basic institutional architecture through which it will carry out its work.
With 21.7 per cent of the world’s population and combined GDP of USD 3.8 trillion, the BIMSTEC has emerged as an influential engine of economic growth.