Transport and Communication is one of the 14 sectors of cooperation since the inception of BIMSTEC in 1997. This sector is led by India.
BIMSTEC Members have recognized the importance to create air, sea, and land linkages among the Member States. The 1st Meeting of the BIMSTEC Expert Group on Transport and Communication Sector held in April 2001, in New Delhi discussed various relevant issues, including Transportation and Cross-border Facilitation, Multimodal Transport and Logistics, Infrastructure Development, Aviation, Maritime Transport, HRD, as well as Communication Linkages and Networking.
The Tenth Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting held in Dhaka on 18 December, 2005 approved, for implementation, the ADB proposal to conduct a BIMSTEC Transport Logistics Study. Accordingly, Asian Development Bank (ADB) carried out a study on Transport and Infrastructure aspects in the BIMSTEC Member States, which was completed in 2007. The BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistic Study (BTILS) was further updated and enhanced by ADB in 2014. The Study has identified 167 projects which will enhance the connectivity in the Bay of Bengal region at an estimated cost of USD 45-50 billion. Out of 167 projects, the Study has prioritized 66. One of the recommendations of the Study was to create a single Working Group on transport and trade facilitation to be referred as BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Working Group (BTCWG).
The Inception Meeting of the BIMSTEC Transport and Connectivity Working Group (BTCWG) held in Bangkok, Thailand in August 2016 reviewed the key agreements reached at the Final BTILS Workshop, covering updated and enhanced policies/strategies, priority projects, monitoring framework, action plan, theme and institutional arrangements and formulated the draft Terms of Reference (ToR) of the BTCWG and monitoring system for the projects.
Being convinced that the development of connectivity in various forms and manifestations is the key to promote regional integration, the BIMSTEC Leaders in the Outcome document during the Goa Retreat in October 2016 expressed satisfaction at the continuing efforts and initiatives to advance multi-modal physical connectivity (air, rail, roads and waterways) in the BIMSTEC region. The Leaders also noted with satisfaction the progress achieved in implementation of the recommendations of the BIMSTEC Transport Infrastructure and Logistics Study.
BIMSTEC Member States are currently finalizing a Motor Vehicle Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between and among BIMSTEC Member States and also an Agreement on Coastal Shipping. Progress is also being made towards finalization of a BIMSTEC Master Plan for Connectivity.
-The Second meeting of the BTCWG is scheduled to be held in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2017.
-The first meetings of the Working Groups to conclude the Motor vehicle Agreement and the Agreement on Coastal Shipping are scheduled to be held in New Delhi , India in November 2017.