Three Memoranda of Understandings were signed between Ranong Port of Thailand and port trusts of Chennai, Visakhapatnam, and Kolkata to cut down the sea travel time between the two countries. The MoUs were signed between both the countries during the first-ever two-day Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Conclave of Ports, which is being organised in Vishakhapatnam on November 7-8. The initiative is being organised to strengthen maritime interaction and port-led connectivity initiatives among member countries.
The statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs stated that the three signed MoUs will play a major role in serving the BIMSTEC's objective of working towards strengthening the connectivity and are a part of India's Act East Policy. "These MOUs will enhance economic partnership by cutting down the sea travel time between India and Thailand from 10 -15 days to 07 days," it read.
India adds great importance to BIMSTEC which includes five countries from South Asia - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka and two from South-East Asia - Myanmar and Thailand.
The BIMSTEC countries also bring together 1.67 billion people, equivalent to around 22 per cent of the world population and a combined GDP of USD 3.71 trillion. The BIMSTEC leaders have met four times so far. The last BIMSTEC summit was held at Kathmandu in 2018. The other BIMSTEC summits have been hosted by Bangkok (Thailand) in 2004, New Delhi (India) in 2008, Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar) in 2014.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Youth Advancement, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh M S Rao, Minister for Industries, Commerce, and Information Technology, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh M. G. Reddy, along with Member of Parliament from Vishakhapatnam M. V.V. Satyanarayana also attended the Conclave.
In his interview to the Bangkok Post, PM Modi had spoken about developments made in the previous BIMSTEC summit which was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, Modi went on to explain how the 4th summit led to a significant push to regional cooperation, and to the strengthening of institutional mechanisms of BIMSTEC, such as mandating the drafting of the BIMSTEC Charter and discussing the possibility for a BIMSTEC Development Fund.
PM Modi also discussed India's participation in the summit, he said, "India actively participated in shaping the outcome of the summit. We have announced many initiatives to be undertaken by India to advance BIMSTEC cooperation and capacity in diverse areas such as security, disaster management, economy and trade, agriculture, health, and digital connectivity, as well as activities to promote cultural and youth linkages. India firmly believes that BIMSTEC is an important part of our Act East Policy."
In his interview with the Bangkok Post, PM Modi also mentioned the BIMSTEC leaders being invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the Modi government in its second term in May. Adding further about the contributions made by Thailand, PM Modi praised Thailand for having made a significant contribution to strengthen cooperation within BIMSTEC.
(With inputs from ANI)