Dhaka relies on BIMSTEC as SAARC fails: Gowher

23 April 2017 bdnews24.com

Bangladesh hopes to make up through sub-regional cooperation including BIMSTEC after the failure of SAARC, says the international affairs adviser to the prime minister.
"In this context coming together in BIMSTEC is truly important," Gowher Rizvi said on Saturday. "We already saw earlier SAARC with all our high hopes has not done much, and for the moment it is doubtful whether or not the next summit meeting will happen". He was speaking at the opening of the BIMSTEC Network of Policy Think Tanks (BNPTT) meeting in Dhaka at the Bay of Bengal grouping's headquarters.
"We have seen NAFTA may or may not survive. We see European Union under challenge," he said, giving examples of the state of the regional groupings in the world.
"In Bangladesh we see much of the future in the sub-region. It is the sub-region we are focussed on. We have BBIN, BCIM and BIMSTEC….this is where we see our future".
Bangladesh's Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Bhutan's Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies (RIGSS), India's Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS), Nepal's Centre for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA), Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) and Thailand's Indian Studies Center of Chulalongkorn University (ISCCU) are the members of the BNPTT which was formed at the second summit in Nov 2008.
The seven countries grouping connecting South Asia with the Southeast Asia received much attention following India-Pakistan tension that resulted in postponement of last year's SAARC summit in Islamabad.
Some think tanks now consider BIMSTEC as alternative to SAARC as Pakistan is not part of this grouping.
The grouping is promoting 14 priority sectors of development and common concerns including trade and investment, transport and communication, tourism and people-to-people contact.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted BIMSTEC leaders at an outreach meet in Goa last year during the BRICS summit. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the meeting.
BIMSTEC Secretary General Sumith Nakandala said their intention was to help the BIMSTEC think tank network "effectively carry out duties for policy advocacy in all 14 priority areas".
Gowher Rizvi thanked the secretary general for "truly revitalising BIMSTEC and giving it extraordinary sense of direction and energy". He also urged the think tanks to come up with big ideas that "excite leaders to action and give them vision".
Foreign ministry's director general for SAARC and BIMSTEC Tareq Ahmed said Bangladesh is the founding member of BIMSTEC and it very much committed to its agenda. "Our prime minister has already made her commitment for BIMSTEC". CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan also stressed sub-regional and regional groupings as he said Asia is going to be the centre of the entire economic system of the world in the next 20 years. "I must compliment our prime minister that she is one of the leaders who certainly realised the reallinged of global possibilities away from the West and towards the East where in fact the resources and opportunities really exists.
"This is the relationship which is going to be the most relevant to all of us whether you do it through BIMSTEC, whether you do it through BBIN, BCIM or whether you do it through SAARC….at the end this is where the game is going to be played out," he said.

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