The Forum of Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) on Wednesday agreed on the need to improve the cooperation mechanism, which would feature a multi-track initiative with track I coordination, to promote regional prosperity and harmony.
The two-day, ninth meeting of the Forum, which concluded in the Kunming city of the Yunan province, agreed to rename the “Forum of Bangladesh China, India and Myanmar on Regional Economic Cooperation” as “Bangladesh China India and Myanmar Regional Cooperation Forum.”
Launched in 1999, the Kunming initiative, which later evolved into the BCIM Forum, has so far been a track II initiative.
In a joint statement signed by the heads of delegations, the Forum agreed to focus on improved regional connectivity and establishing the Kunming-Mandalay-Dhaka-Kolkata economic corridor. However, the Myanmar delegate emphasised the need to submit the matter to the new government in Yangon.
Business communities of the four countries agreed in principle to set up a BCIM council for holding regular meetings and exchange of information among enterprises. The BCIM Forum will fully support the proposed business council.
The four parties have to get each government to adopt measures to facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods, eliminate overland trade barriers in accordance with each country’s domestic laws and regulations and provide market access to each other, increase trade and mutual investments as well as other forms of trade, including trade in services consistent with the regional free trade agreement, the statement said.
Jin Cheng, Director, Foreign Affairs Office, the People’s Government of Yunan Province, who is also the Deputy Director-General of the International Regional Cooperation Office of the province, told journalists that the BCIM agreed to conduct a joint road survey for a car rally from Kunming to Kolkata proposed to be held in 2012.
Track I system
On Tuesday, Governor Qin Guangrong, in his welcome speech, suggested that a multi-level and multi-form cooperation be evolved with track I as the guiding factor. “Under the present framework, track I high-level official meeting system and joint government workforce system should be set up, while track II academic forum system and entrepreneurs forum system are running,” he said.
“Since the first forum in Kunming in 1999, the four parties of BCIM economic cooperation have been actively participating in the cooperation, which enables its fruitful achievements despite ups and downs.”
Mr. Qin pointed out that presently trade with India, Myanmar and Bangladesh constituted one-fifth of the provincial export and import volume, while Yunnan’s investment and project contractions in these three countries were also growing rapidly.
In his opening remarks, Eric Gonsalves, who led the Indian delegation, said that within the BCIM region all the four participants demonstrated their desire to undertake development programmes more effectively. “We should now seek to maximise the joint utilisation of resources and expertise from within the region to optimise the final outcome,” he said.
“For instance, the development of the Chittagong port with Chinese assistance can be dovetailed with the surface transport agreements recently reached between Bangladesh and India to give that port a much larger hinterland while allowing an outlet for goods from northeast India, Nepal and Bhutan. Similarly joint development of the port of Sittwe and the Kaladan River, development of the port of Khulna and the revival of the inland water transport system along the Brahmaputra are projects which could contribute greatly to economies and welfare of the region.”
The delegation included Consul-General of India to Guangzhou Indra Mani Pandey.( The Hindu-20.1.2011)