Leaders of the BIMSTEC on Wednesday vowed to intensify regional cooperation to strengthen connectivity, enhance trade and investment in tourism, technology and energy sectors to offset the economic losses caused by the pandemic.
They also pledged to strengthen their collective resilience to combat the challenges of poverty, natural disasters, climate change, pandemics and all other public health emergencies.
The BIMSTEC leaders in its 5th summit pledged to strengthen their efforts to effectively deal with terrorism and transnational crimes, and ensure food and energy security through partnership and joint actions, in parallel to the implementation toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, keeping in mind that Covid-19 may not be the last calamity to befall their region.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of Bhutan; Prime Minister of Nepal; President of Sri Lanka; Prime Minister of Thailand and representative of Myanmar met virtually in Colombo for the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit.
They encouraged member states to continue to support one another in combating Covid-19 through the BIMSTEC framework as well as bilaterally to foster the spirit of BIMSTEC solidarity, according to the 5th BIMSTEC Summit Declaration.
The key outcome of the summit was the adoption and signing of the BIMSTEC Charter, which formalises the grouping into an organisation made up of member states that are littoral to, and dependent upon, the Bay of Bengal.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her Indian counterpart Modi along with other leaders also witnessed the signing of three BIMSTEC agreements which represent progress being achieved in ongoing cooperation activities.
These are BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; BIMSTEC Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Cooperation in the field of Diplomatic Training and Memorandum of Association on Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility.
The summit's theme "Towards a Resilient Region, Prosperous Economies, Healthy People" captured the main current priorities of member states, and the efforts by BIMSTEC to develop cooperation activities that support member state's programmes to deal with the economic and development consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The summit also saw considerable progress being achieved in the BIMSTEC connectivity agenda with the adoption of the "Master Plan for Transport Connectivity" by leaders which lays out a guidance framework for connectivity related activities in the region in the future.
The BIMSTEC leaders urged the member states to expedite conclusion of pending legal instruments and ratify the legal instruments that have already been signed.
They expressed their deep appreciation to Sri Lanka for its excellent leadership and valuable contribution during its chairmanship of BIMSTEC and welcomed Thailand as the next chair of BIMSTEC and offered their full cooperation to the new chair.