Trade, Investment and Development

Bangladesh is the Lead Country for Trade, Investment and Development Sector as recommended by the Seventeenth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held virtually in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 01 April 2021. Trade and Investment was one of the initial six sectors of BIMSTEC cooperation as identified by the Second BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 19 December 1998. Bangladesh was acting as the Lead Country for Trade and Investment Sector.

The initial vision for BIMSTEC economic cooperation, as articulated in the First (Special) BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand on 22 December 1997, had three major pillars: i) close public-private partnership to promote economic cooperation; ii) identification of sectors, sub-sectors and projects for economic cooperation, and iii) elimination of non-tariff and tariff barriers through government-to-government negotiations.

Trade and Investment Sector has a well developed institutional mechanism to conduct its activities: i) Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting (TEMM): 05 Meetings held; ii) Senior Trade and Economic Officials’ Meeting (STEOM): 04 Meetings held; iii) Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) and its Working Groups: 21 rounds of TNC Meetings and Meetings of its Working Groups held back to back or parallel with the TNC meetings.; iv) BIMSTEC Economic Forum: 07 Meetings held; and v) BIMSTEC Business Forum: 06 Meetings held.

BIMSTEC FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

BIMSTEC Member Members agreed to establish the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement in order to stimulate trade and investment in the parties, and attract outsiders to trade with and invest in BIMSTEC at a higher level. All members, except Bangladesh because of domestic procedure, became signatories to the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area in the Sixth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok on 08 February 2004, as witnessed by the Prime Minister of Thailand and BIMSTEC’s Foreign Ministers. Bangladesh later joined the Framework Agreement on 25 June 2004 through 1st Protocol to the Framework Agreement on BIMSTEC.

The Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) and its 07 Working Groups (i.e., Working Group on Trade in Goods, Working Group on Rules of Origin, Working Group on Trade in Services, Working Group on Investment, Working Group on Legal Experts, Working Group on Customs Cooperation, Working Group on Trade Facilitation) have been negotiating the following constituent agreements of the BIMSTEC FTA:

  • Agreement on Trade in Goods of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area: Significant progress has been made to finalize the text of the Agreement and its annexure;
  • Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters for the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area: Significant progress has been made to finalize the text of the Agreement;
  • Agreement on Dispute Settlement Procedures and Mechanism of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area: The draft text of this Agreement is ready;
  • Agreement on Trade in Services of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area: 08 rounds of negotiations have already been held;
  • Agreement on Investment of the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area: 08 rounds of negotiations have already been held;
  • Agreement on Trade Facilitation for the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area: 02 rounds of negotiations have already been held;
  • [2nd] Protocol to amend the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area: The draft text of the 2nd Protocol is ready;