BIMSTEC forum can be alternative to LDC club: FM

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DHAKA, Mar 20, 2018 (BSS) – Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali today said BIMSTEC forum can be an alternative to LDC club to face some immediate challenges, which Bangladesh may experience following its graduation into a middle income country from the LDC group.

“We will also face some immediate trade and economic challenges to sustain the momentum of the development and progress we have made…We have to find out alternatives to LDC Club. BIMSTEC forum could be one such alternate,” he said.

The foreign minister was addressing as the chief guest at a seminar of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) at BIMSTEC Secretariat here.

BIMSTEC Secretary General M. Shahidul Islam also spoke at the inaugural session of the seminar. Representatives of the BIMSTEC member states, policy makers, foreign policy experts, academics, business leaders and civil society members, among others, joined the event as panel discussants.

Ali said Bangladesh along with three other BIMSTEC members, including Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar, are in the process of graduation from the LDC group which is a matter of immense pride for us.

“We can supplement the economic benefits and gains we used to receive as LDC club members through rapid enhancement of economic cooperation under BIMSTEC process,” he said.

The foreign minister said it is now imperative on the member states that “we conclude all pending formalities to harness quick dividends from our cooperation in the BIMSTEC forum”.

He said the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attaches high priority to transform the BIMSTEC process more dynamic, effective and to strengthening the institutional mechanism for bringing out more results.

“Hosting the BIMSTEC Secretariat since 2014 in Dhaka is a testimony of our commitment to the BIMSTEC process,” he added.

Ali said BIMSTEC forum left behind 20 years and during this journey and there have been some significant achievements in economic advancement, social and technological progress.

“But much remains to be done to make it a result oriented organization. The organization is yet to take off despite having huge potentials for gains to bolster economic and social progress for the peoples of the region,’ he added.

BIMSTEC countries, he said, covered partly by South Asia and partly by South East Asia having enormous resources and potentials is the fastest growing region in the world.

Bay of Bengal region has emerged as a common space for security and development despite having such huge potentials, much remains unexploited, he added.

The minister urged all speakers, panelists, experts and participants to focus on a much wider range of issues, challenges and opportunities and come out with fruitful recommendations to the policy makers to transform the BIMSTEC process into a result-oriented and mutually beneficial organization.