KATHMANDU, Aug 25: The fourth BIMSTEC summit is set to witness the signing of a MoU on BIMSTEC Grid Inter-connection. This agreement will pave the way for buying and selling electricity among BIMSTEC member states once the cross-country energy grids are put in place.
Addressing a press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Friday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradip Gyawali informed that the MoU will open the door for energy cooperation among seven member states of South Asia and South East Asia. BIMSTEC has seven member states -- Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
BIMSTEC member states have identified various 16 priority areas of work. Amid suggestions from various quarters that the priority areas were too scattered, the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held recently has decided to reduce the number.
According to Minister Gyawali, Nepal has put connectivity, poverty alleviation, inter-regional trade and investment, climate change and security as priority issues in the Summit. He said that connectivity embraces the idea of physical, digital and human connectivity, with roadways, railways, waterways, aviation way, grid network and internet being mooted to enhance physical connectivity.
Minister Gyawali said enhancing people-to-people relations, cultural exchange, networking of universities and think tanks, as well as policy makers among BIMSTEC member states, are also included to promote connectivity. “The second priority we have placed on is poverty alleviation,” he said.
The summit is also placing priority to promote regional trade and investment, controlling various trans-national crimes including human trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism. Among other things, the summit will also dwell on the issues of strengthening BIMSTEC Secretariat, establishing BIMSTEC Development Fund and launching the Buddhist Circuit.
Meanwhile, MoFA officials said Nepal and Sri Lanka are to sign a MoU on networking cooperation between the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Sri Lankan counterpart organization. Similarly, Nepal and India will ink two separate MoUs on Raxaul-Kathmandu Railway and Bulk Cargo.