The Bangkok Declaration provides for the following institutional mechanisms:
• Annual Ministerial Meetings, to be hosted by the Member States on the basis of alphabetical rotation.
• Senior Officials Committee, to meet on a regular basis as and when required.
• BIMSTEC Working Group, the lower tier of the BIMSTEC process comprising Ambassadors/Representatives from Member States to carry on the work in between Annual Ministerial Meetings.
• Specialized Task Forces and other mechanisms as deemed necessary by the Senior Officials to be coordinated by Member States, as appropriate.
BIMSTEC meets regularly at different levels. Each type of Meeting is tasked with unique responsibilities, but is closely interrelated to one another (BIMSTEC Orgnizational Chart). The Country holding the Chairmanship of BIMSTEC is responsible for the conduct of regular meetings, including the BIMSTEC Summit, Ministerial Meeting, Senior Officials’ Meeting and BIMSTEC Working Group Meeting. The main working mechanism of BIMSTEC is categorized as follows:
1. BIMSTEC Summit
This is the highest policy making body in the BIMSTEC process. As per the decision of the 6th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held in Thailand on 8th February 2004, the Summit should be held every two years, as possible. The First Summit Meeting of the Heads of the BIMSTEC Countries was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 31 July 2004. The Second Summit was held on 13 November 2008 in New Delhi. The Third Summit was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on 4 March 2014. The Fourth Summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 30-31 August 2018.
2. Ministerial Meetings
Ministerial Meetings cover the area of foreign affairs (MM) and the area of trade and economic affairs (TEMM). While the Foreign Ministerial Meeting acts as prime mover determining the overall policy, as well as recommendations for the Leaders’ Summit, Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting monitors the progress in the Trade and Investment Sector as well as FTA policy.
Foreign Ministerial Meetings (MM)
It is the second apex forum of BIMSTEC next to the Summit Meeting of BIMSTEC, and the second highest policy-making body attended by the External/Foreign Ministers of Member States. The Ministerial Meeting is preceded by the Senior Official’s Meeting and is represented by the Senior Official’s (Foreign Secretaries) of the Member States. A representative of Ministry of Trade/Commerce is also inducted in the delegation.
• First Ministerial Meeting – 06 June 1997, Bangkok, Thailand
• Special Ministerial Meeting – 22 December 1997, Bangkok, Thailand
• Second Ministerial Meeting – 19 December 1998, Dhaka, Bangladesh
• Third Ministerial Meeting – 6 July 2000, New Delhi, India
• Fourth Ministerial Meeting – 21 December 2001, Yangon, Myanmar
• Fifth Ministerial Meeting – 20 December 2002, Colombo, Sri Lanka
• Sixth Ministerial Meeting – 8 February 2004, Phuket, Thailand
• Seventh Ministerial Meeting – 30 July 2004, Bangkok, Thailand
• Eighth Ministerial Meeting – 18-19 December 2005, Dhaka, Bangladesh
• Ninth Ministerial Meeting – 9 August 2006, New Delhi, India
• Tenth Ministerial Meeting – 29 August 2008, New Delhi, India
• Eleventh Ministerial Meeting – 12 November 2008, New Delhi, India
• Twelfth Ministerial Meeting – 11 December 2009, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
• Thirteenth Ministerial Meeting – 22 January 2011, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
• Fourteenth Ministerial Meeting – 3 March 2014, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
• Fifteenth Ministerial Meeting – 11 August 2017, Kathmandu, Nepal
• Sixteenth Ministerial Meeting – 29 August 2018, Kathmandu, Nepal
Trade/Economic Ministerial Meetings (TEMM)
The TEMM consists of the Trade/Economic Ministers of the Member States, assisted by the Senior Trade/Economic Officials Meeting that provides inputs to the Ministerial Meeting. Trade/Economic Ministers Meetings are mandated to follow up and accelerate the implementation of economic activities. To date, five TEMMs have taken place:
• First Meeting of BIMSTEC TEMM – 07 August 1998, Bangkok, Thailand
• Second Meeting of BIMSTEC TEMM – 27 April 2000 in New Delhi, India
• Third Meeting of BIMSTEC TEMM – 15 February 2001, Yangon, Myanmar
• Fourth Meeting of BIMSTEC TEMM – 7 March 2003, Colombo, Sri Lanka
• Fifth Meeting of BIMSTEC TEMM – 7 February 2004, Phuket, Thailand
• Sixth Meeting of BIMSTEC TEMM – upcoming, Dhaka, Bangladesh
The Senior Officials’ Meeting is divided into the area of foreign affairs (SOM) and the area of trade and economic affairs (STEOM). Permanent secretaries of the foreign affairs and that of trade and economic affairs will be the delegations to their respective forum.
Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM)
The Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) precedes the Ministerial Meeting and is represented by the Senior Officials of the Foreign Ministries of the Member States at the Foreign Secretary Level. A representative from the Ministry of Commerce /Trade is also inducted in the delegation. The SOM helps the Ministerial Meeting in monitoring and providing overall direction to the BIMSTEC activities. It is therefore the most important policy level organ of the BIMSTEC Grouping reporting ultimately to the Ministerial organ. To date, 16 regular SOMs have been held
• First SOM – 4-5 June 1997, Bangkok, Thailand
• Special SOM – 19-20 December 1997, Bangkok, Thailand
• Second SOM – 17-18 December 1998, Dhaka, Bangladesh
• Third SOM – 4-5 July 2000, New Delhi, India
• Fourth SOM – 19-20 Dec 2001,Yangon, Myanmar
• Fifth SOM – 18-19 December 2002, Colombo, Sri Lanka
• Sixth SOM – 17-19 September 2003, Bangkok, Thailand
• Seventh SOM – 6 February 2004, Phuket, Thailand
• Eighth SOM – 30 July 2004, Bangkok, Thailand
• Ninth SOM – 31 May-01 June 2005, Dhaka, Bangladesh
• Tenth SOM – 18 December 2005, Dhaka, Bangladesh
• Eleventh SOM – 8 August 2006, New Delhi, India
• Twelfth SOM – 28 August 2008, New Delhi, India
• Thirteenth SOM – 11 November 2008, New Delhi, India
• Fourteenth SOM – 10 December 2009, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
• Fifteenth SOM – 21 January 2011, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
• Sixteenth SOM – 2 March 2014, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
• Seventeenth SOM – 7 February 2017, Kathmandu, Nepal
• Eighteenth SOM – 10 August 2017, Kathmandu, Nepal
• Nineteenth SOM – 28 August 2018, Kathmandu, Nepal
Senior Trade/Economic Officials’ Meetings (STEOM)
The Senior Trade/Economic Officials Meeting (STEOM) is an operational body comprising Senior Officials of the Trade/Commerce Ministry of the Member States and representative from Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This meeting precedes the Ministerial Meeting and reports to the TEMM. To date, the Senior Trade/Economic Officials of BIMSTEC countries have met four times.
• First STEOM – 26 April 2000, New Delhi, India
• Second STEOM – 14 February 2001, Yangon, Myanmar
• Third STEOM – 6 March 2003, Colombo, Sri Lanka
• Fourth STEOM – 2004, Bangkok, Thailand
• Fifth STEOM – 2008, Bangladesh
Business Forum and Economic Forum
Two forums under the STEOM allow active participation of the private sector. In the Business Forum, private sector representatives from the BIMSTEC Member States meet and discuss various issues. Results from the Business Forum will be forwarded to Economic Forum where the private sector have an opportunity to discuss freely with representatives from the public sector from Member States. The Economic Forum will then report outcomes of its meetings to the STEOM. The last Forum was held in New Delhi.
The Chairman of the BWG rotates along with the Chairmanship of the BIMSTEC. The BWG reports to the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM). The Meeting is held about monthly to review the progress of and ensure coordination among different activities. BWG Meetings are being held in the BIMSTEC Secretariat, Dhaka chaired by Nepal.
Expert Group Meeting
The Lead Countries of the 13 priority sectors of cooperation and 15 sub-sectors are to host expert group meetings of their responsible sectors regularly and report the result to the BIMSTEC Working Group in Bangkok (BWG) via respective Embassies to Thailand. The result will then be further reported to the SOM.