In this article, we will discuss Colombo Summit. So, let’s get started.
Highlights of Colombo Summit
- The Summit resulted in a package of decisions and agreement which includes the grouping’s charter. The charter, adopted formally, presents BIMSTEC as “an inter-governmental organisation” with “legal personality.”
- The charter defines BIMSTEC’s purposes, enlisting 11 objectives with key focus on the acceleration of “the economic growth and social progress in the Bay of Bengal region”, and promotion of “multidimensional connectivity”.
- The grouping now views itself not as a sub-regional organisation but as a regional organisation whose destiny is linked with the area around the Bay of Bengal.
- The second element of the ‘Colombo package’ is the decision to re-constitute and reduce the number of sectors of cooperation from the unwieldy 14 to a more manageable seven. Each member-state will serve as a lead for a sector:
- Trade, investment and development (Bangladesh)
- Environment and climate change (Bhutan)
- Security, including energy (India)
- Agriculture and food security (Myanmar)
- People-to-people contacts (Nepal)
- Science, technology and innovation (Sri Lanka)
- Connectivity (Thailand)
- The countries also adopted the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity applicable for 2018-2028 which was devised and backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
- It lists 264 projects entailing a total investment of $126 billion; projects worth $55 billion are under implementation.
- The package includes three new agreements signed by member states, relating to mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, cooperation between diplomatic academies, and the establishment of a technology transfer facility in Colombo.
- BIMSTEC has special significance for India as the Bay of Bengal region is integral to India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies which can accelerate the process of regional integration.
- The adoption of the Charter at this summit promises to re-energise the 25-year-old grouping at a time of growing global uncertainties.
- It is expected to help impart a more connected vision to the seven-member organisation.
- The summit’s decision for India to lead the ‘security pillar’ out of the seven designated pillars of the revived BIMSTEC, has given India’s regional aspirations a new orientation, away from the stalemated SAARC that has been unable to meet since 2014.