7 Bay of Bengal nations to work for free trade region

15th-Ministerial-meetingKathmandu / Aug. 11: Seven South Asian and Southeast Asian nations have agreed to conclude early a free trade accord, implement the Paris agreement on climate change and step up cooperation among their security agencies to combat terrorism.

The foreign ministers of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal on Friday expressed “great concern’” over increasing threats to the planet and peoples’ livelihoods from climate change and agreed to combat it at local, national and regional levels.

They met in the Nepalese capital under the aegis of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC.

The ministers agreed to expedite the ratification of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking, said a joint statement issued at the end of a two-day meeting on Friday.

The nations agreed to explore the possibilities of promoting energy trade in the region, particularly of renewable and clean energy sources. They finalised an agreement to be signed soon on the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection, the statement said.

In October, the BIMSTEC leaders interacted with the heads of state of five of the world’s rising powers – Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa – during a two-day summit in the western Indian tourist resort of Goa, which focused on economic recovery and counter terrorism. Associated Press

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