BIMSTEC Joint Working Group
- India participated in the 9th Meeting of the BIMSTEC Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (JWG-CTTC), hosted by Bhutan virtually.
- The meeting discussed emerging traditional and non-traditional security threats in the BIMSTEC region.
- The Indian delegation highlighted threats emanating from cross-border terrorism from terrorist groups such as LeT, JeM, HM etc. and transnational organized crime such as drug trafficking, illegal weapons smuggling etc.
- The meeting deliberated and made recommendations on wide ranging issues to enhance cooperation and collaboration in countering terrorism and transnational crimes in the region.
- The meeting also discussed modalities for implementation of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking, which entered into force on 16 March 2021 upon ratification by all Member States.
- India would be hosting the tenth Meeting of the BIMSTEC Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crimes (JWG-CTTC) in 2022.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
- It 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).
- There are 7 nations in BIMSTEC
- There are five Southasian nations:
- Sri Lanka
- There are two southeast Asian nations:
- BIMSTEC was initially a four-member states:
- Sri-Lanka and
Fourteen priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors, i.e,
- Trade and Investment
- Transportation and Communication
- Cultural Cooperation
- Environment and Disaster Management
- Public Health
- People-to-People Contact
- Poverty Alleviation
- Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime
- Climate Change
A BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation (c. 2018), also referred to as the mini SAARC.
Leadership is rotated in alphabetical order of country names. The permanent secretariat is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Secretary General: Tenzin Lekphell (Bhutan)
Establishment: 6 June 1997
- Creating an enabling environment for the rapid economic development of the sub-region.
- Encouraging the spirit of equality and partnership.
- Promoting active collaboration and mutual assistance in the areas of common interests of the member countries
- Accelerating support for each other in the fields of education, science, and technology, etc.
Principles of BIMSTEC
- Sovereign Equality
- Territorial Integrity
- Political Independence
- No-interference in Internal Affairs
- Peaceful Co- existence
- Mutual Benefit
- Constitute an addition to and not be a substitute for bilateral, regional or multilateral cooperation involving the Member States.
Challenges Faced by BIMSTEC
Neglect by member states: It seems that India has used BIMSTEC only when it fails to work through SAARC in the regional setting and other major members like Thailand and Myanmar are focused more towards ASEAN than BIMSTEC.
Inconsistent Meetings: BIMSTEC planned to hold summits every two years, ministerial meetings every year, but only four summits have taken place in 20 years upto 2018.
Broad Focus Areas: The focus of BIMSTEC is very wide, including 14 areas of cooperation like connectivity, public health, agriculture etc. It is suggested that BIMSTEC should remain committed to small focus areas and cooperate in them efficiently.
No FTA: BIMSTEC FTA was negotiated in 2004, talks on it are yet to be concluded.
Bilateral Issues between Member Nations: Bangladesh is facing one of the worst refugee crisis of Rohingyas from Myanmar who are fleeing prosecution in the state of Rakhine in Myanmar. There is a border conflict between Myanmar and Thailand.
BCIM: The formation of another sub-regional initiative, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Forum, with the proactive membership of China, has created more doubts about the exclusive potential of BIMSTEC.
India is the Lead Country for BIMSTEC Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (JWG-CTTC), which also oversees six Sub-Groups on
- Intelligence Sharing
- Legal and Law Enforcement
- Countering Radicalization and Terrorism
- Anti- Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism
- Human Trafficking
- Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals."