The slow progress of a free trade framework for multilateral forum Bimstec has prompted members of the seven-country bloc to consider the components in parts and proceed with implementation.
Bimstec, which consists of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, had agreed to establish a free trade area framework. But there are still components of this agreement that are yet to be finalised.
“The progress of Bimstec FTA, to be fair, is very slow. Member states are now considering completing those components that are almost finalised to proceed with implementation instead of waiting for the finalisation of the entire FTA,” said Bimstec Secretariat secretary-general Tenzin Lekphell.
Addressing a Bimstec business conclave organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Lekphell said the secretariat hopes that three components — agreements on trade in goods, trade facilitation and cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters — could be finalised in the next meeting later this year as proposed by Bangladesh.
Andalib Elias, deputy high commissioner for Bangladesh, Calcutta, said the country had previously indicated its interest in joining the India-Myanmar-Thaland highway which is expected to play a significant role in the efficient flow of raw materials.