KATHMANDU: The foreign secretaries of the BIMSTEC member states today reviewed the progress achieved so far in the areas of cooperation and provided guidance to the future works of the regional grouping.
During the 19th Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) of the BIMSTEC held here, the foreign secretaries discussed as to how cooperation between the member states could be made more effective and business-like, Nepal Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bharat Raj Paudyal said.
He said the officials considered a number of reports of various mechanisms related to customs cooperation, connectivity, technology, counter terrorism and transnational crimes, agriculture, poverty alleviation and public health.
Several measures, including exploring the possibility of establishing BIMSTEC development fund, rationalisation of areas of cooperation and identification of core prioritised areas, were deliberated in the meeting, Paudyal said.
The meeting also recommended for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the BIMSTEC grid interconnections, which is expected to further cooperation in energy sector among the member states, he said.
The MoU will be signed during the two-day BIMSTEC summit which will commence on August 30 in Kathmandu, he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among the leaders who will attend the 4th BIMSTEC Summit, whose theme is 'Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region'.
The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is a regional grouping comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
The grouping accounts for 22 per cent of the global population, and has a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.8 trillion.
The first BIMSTEC summit was held in Thailand in 1997, second in 2008 in India and third in 2014 in Myanmar.
Nepal has assumed the chairmanship of BIMSTEC since 2014.