BIMSTEC a sunny prospect in BRICS summit at Goa

When leaders of countries that make up half the world’s population and nearly a quarter of global GDP ($17 trillion combined) gather, it is a display of muscle that the world is bound to watch. Added to their economic clout, the leaders themselves are formidable strongmen, both regionally and globally.

The BRICS forum, once comprising the world’s fastest growing economies, is running out of steam. The slump in oil prices have negatively impacted both Russia and Brazil’s growth stories, and Russia has paid heavily for western sanctions over Ukraine.

  • Chinese manufacturing saw its weakest growth in years,
  • India has faced a contraction in IIP figures even though it remains the world’s fastest growing economy.
  • The South African’s economy is in “crisis” this year, with revised growth estimates falling below 1 per cent, and 26 per cent unemployment, fuelling violent protests.

Agenda of BRICS Countries:

  • India:“strong language” on terrorism, with specific references to cross-border terror, safe havens, funding and sponsorship of terror groups
  • Russia would like the full backing of BRICS for its actions in Syria, which India and Brazil’s new pro-U.S. government may resist.
  • China would like all BRICS countries to express support on the South China Sea

BIMSTEC Initiative:

  • The seven-nation grouping of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, was founded in 1997 as BISTEC, and then refurbished as the Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation (BIMSTEC), but has floundered since then for lack of funding.
  • It didn’t even have an office, and meetings were held at the Thai foreign ministry in Bangkok until it was given headquarters in Dhaka in 2011 and a secretary general, Sri Lankan diplomat Sumith Nakandala, in 2014.
  • Much of BIMSTEC’s success will depend on keeping the grouping away from politics that bedeviled SAARC.
  • “India must not to fall in the trap of putting geopolitics over economics, reducing BIMSTEC into just another geopolitical weapon for isolating Pakistan.
  • Rather, India should lead BIMSTEC positively with a much broader, inclusive vision driven by economic merits of cooperation.

Growing connectivity

  • the grouping has shown a coherence and focus that is leading to new projects on connectivity, building infrastructure and sharing resources, both inter-regionally as well as bilaterally.
  • India’s “Act East” policy is spurring the government to extend the Trilateral highway project all the way to Cambodia, to help with port infrastructure in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, while recently rescued ties with Nepal will see the government step up its hydel and road projects there.
  • In addition, the ‘SASEC’ grouping that also includes the Maldives, met last month to clear infrastructure projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, and the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) and BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) groupings are seeing their projects on seamless connectivity moving at a quicker pace.

Source: The Hindu

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