BIMSTEC Negotiating FTA, Other Proposals to Enhance Trade

22 July 2016

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) free trade agreement (FTA) currently under negotiation by the inter-regional organization could benefit the region's trade, according to an ASSOCHAM India study on opportunities and challenges of economic integration. The study suggests that the FTA could help

  • operationalize production links among member countries;
  • eliminate non-tariff measures within a mutually agreed timeframe;
  • reduce goods on the negative list; and
  • introduce transit facilities enhancing BIMSTEC trade.

The inter-regional grouping is also considering other proposals to grow trade in the region, including

  • A single visa to facilitate movement of people, including investors, among the BIMSTEC countries; 
  • Extension of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand; and 
  • An investment deal in services, to open up other avenues for growth. 

The BIMSTEC Secretariat committed to take forward recommendations of its trade chambers, including ASSOCHAM, to political leadership for a final call. 

BIMSTEC—comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand—is home to more than 1.5 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product of around $2.7 trillion.

 

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