Industrialists and businessmen have stressed on utilizing the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) as a harbinger of development.
They are of the view that BIMSTEC should be made stronger as a common forum for attracting investment and technology for economic development through mutual cooperation of the member countries.
Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) Chairman Narendra Kumar Basnyat said Nepal which is active in SAARC and BIMSTEC, should emphasize on tracing path of economic development from that forum.
We can attract investment from member countries in areas of comparative advantage in tourism, hydro power, and agriculture by making economic diplomacy effective, he said.
FNCCI Senior Vice Chairman Pradip Raj Pandey said we can bring investment in areas fixed by government in priority and for economic development of Nepal while strengthening regional cooperation.
Nepal can benefit if religious tourism is properly promoted in Thailand and Myanmar, both Buddhist countries, as BIMSTEC is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia.
BIMSTEC has been giving high priority to 14 areas including trade and investment, technology, energy, transport, communication, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, anti-terrorism, international crime control, environment conservation, disaster management, public health, poverty alleviation, climate change and people to people contact and various facets of development and of common concern.
Nepal became full member of BIMSTEC in 2004 after being observer and played a leading role and has been given responsibility on poverty alleviation.
Bangladesh has got responsibility on trade and investment, India on transport and travel, Myanmar energy and agriculture, Sri Lanka technology, Thailand fisheries and Bhutan cultural issues.
Now BIMSTEC has divided trade and investment in two areas-- trade of goods and services and have been divided into eight sub groups.
Thailand has presented a proposal for establishment of BIMSTEC free trade area, but it has not been implemented, though discussion continues among member countries. The organization has a target to enforce it by 2018.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been working as a development partner of the organisation which links South Asia and South East Asia since 2005. ADB has presented a report on transport infrastructure among member countries, but they have not given any reactions on it.
BIMSTEC with seven countries as members including Nepal, India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh of SAARC and south east Asian countries Myanmar and Thailand of ASEAN was established in 1997.