BIMSTEC in BRICS: A mini-SAARC summit in the making?

The inclusion of Nepal and Bhutan into BIMSTEC in 2004 - along with BRICS and SAARC membership gave India an alternative platform to engage with all its immediate neighbours.

Written by Harsha Raj Gatty | Goa | Updated: October 16, 2016 8:53 am
BRICS, BRICS summit, BRICS India, BRICS summit Goa, BRICS talks, BRICS rating agency, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, vladimir putin, kv kamath, india news A security personnel stands guard outside one of the venues of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, in Benaulim in the western state of Goa, October 14, 2016. (Source: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

Over a period of time the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)- has definitely gone beyond its initial mandate of securing technological and economic cooperation among nations in the coast of Bengal. The inclusion of Nepal and Bhutan into BIMSTEC in 2004 — along with BRICS and SAARC membership — gave India an alternative platform to engage with all its immediate neighbours such as Sri Lanka, China, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, while keeping Pakistan at an arms length.

As host of 19th summit, Pakistan failed to secure confidence of SAARC nations on its anti-terrors effort, five member nations including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, pulled out of the summit, while another BIMSTEC member and also SAARC Chair Nepal made formal announcement of 2016’s SAARC summit’s postponement without specifying any future dates.

Therefore it wont be completely wrong to conclude that BRICS-BIMSTEC is the mini-congression of SAARC nations for 2016 with six of the eight – SAARC members participating in it.

So, what is it in for BIMSTEC nations to steadily standby with India which is the also the member of coveted BRICS. While in its pre-BRICS media interaction the official’s added that there might not be any agreements or MOU’s signed by South Asian nations mutually or with their BRICS counterpart, the forum they said would act as a goodwill gesture by India to its neighbours to further foster their relationship on multilateral regional cooperation.

“On their own, it will be challenging for our neighbours to host such multi-national events. Subsequently, we felt our neighbors can utilize the platform as-well to serve their own domestic interest,” Chief Protocol Officer, Sanjiv Verma, Chief of Protocol for MEA said earlier.

While securing national borders and countering terror threats may take place across during the multi-national meet, the BIMSTEC nations may also try informally negotiate for investment opportunities on trade, technology, tourism, cultural cooperation, climate change, energy, Transport and Communication in their domestic market.

During the last leg of BRICS-BIMSTEC and signing of Goa Declaration, altogether six-different schedules have time-lined for the interaction of the leaders of the two groups during which deliberation and discussions will take place on Sunday.

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