Seven-membered regional grouping BIMSTEC expressed hope that the customs cooperation agreement, which is a trade facilitation initiative, among the member nations will be finalised by 2019. The grouping is also expected to conclude the agreement on trade in goods by 2020.
Founded in 1997, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is a regional grouping comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. The objective of the alliance is to harness shared and accelerated growth through mutual cooperation in different areas of common interests by utilising regional resources and geographical advantages.
The grouping accounts for 22 per cent of the global population, and has a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.8 trillion. BIMSTEC countries are negotiating six constituent agreements and one protocol agreement, a part of the FTA of this bloc. These constituent agreements are in trade in goods, trade in services, mutual assistance in customs matter, dispute settlement procedures, rules of origin, among others.