President Maithripala Sirisena left Colombo this morning (Aug 29) to attend the 4th Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which will be held from tomorrow until 31 August in Kathmandu.
The Presidents of Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the Prime Ministers of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Thailand and the Chief Advisor of the Bhutanese Government will be leading their respective delegations to the summit. The leaders are to adopt the 4th BIMSTEC Summit Declaration ‘Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region’ on 31 August upon the conclusion of the summit. At the conclusion of the summit, the Chairmanship of BIMSTEC will be handed over to Sri Lanka by the current Chair, Nepal.
The summit, which also includes a retreat of the participating Heads of State and Government, will be preceded by the 16th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting and the 19th Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting.
The leaders will also witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the BIMSTEC Grid Inter-Connection at the summit.
During the preceding meetings, several initiatives under agreed priority sectors will be reviewed with a view to enhancing inclusive growth and economic prosperity in the BIMSTEC region. The priority sectors of cooperation in BIMSTEC include Trade and Investment, Technology, Energy, Transportation and Communication, Tourism, Fisheries, Agriculture, Cultural Cooperation, Environment and Disaster Management, Public Health, People to People Contact, Poverty Alleviation, Counterterrorism and Transnational Crimes and Climate Change.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), launched in 1997, bridges countries of South and South East Asia in the Bay of Bengal region. The Bay of Bengal region is home to 21 % of the global population with an average GDP growth of 6.5%.
Sri Lanka is the lead country for the technology sector, where the establishment of a BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Sri Lanka is under consideration. This facility seeks to expand the technology base of member states through collaboration and partnerships targeted towards micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.
The 3rd BIMSTEC Summit was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in 2014, and a BIMSTEC leaders’ retreat and the BRICS and BIMSTEC outreach summit was held in Goa, India in 2016.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Kathmandu will also participate in summit-related meetings.
During his stay in Nepal, President Sirisena will meet with his Nepali counterpart President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli on 1 September. The President will also attend a banquet hosted by the President of Nepal in his honour.
President Sirisena will be visiting Lumbini on 1 September and on 2 September he is scheduled to visit the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu and attend a tree-planting ceremony there.