Recently, BIMSTEC will now be open to new members and observers after a historic first charter of the grouping came into force.

More on the news:

  • The BIMSTEC charter was adopted at its 5th BIMSTEC Leaders Virtual Summit, which was chaired by Sri Lanka in 2022.
  • Last month, Nepal’s parliament took up the BIMSTEC charter and ratified it which paved the way for the coming into force of charter.
  • After coming into force, the BIMSTEC now has acquired a legal personality and will be able to enter into structured diplomatic dialogue with other groupings and countries.


  • BIMSTEC stands for ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’
  • The BIMSTEC is a regional organization that was established on 06 June 1997 with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration. 
  • Initially known as BIST-EC (Bangladesh-India-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation), and comprises seven Member States with the admission of Myanmar on 22 December 1997, and Bhutan and Nepal in February 2004.

 The purposes of BIMSTEC:

  • Identify and implement cooperation projects to foster rapid economic development in agreed areas and explore new areas for collaboration as agreed upon by Member States.
  • Accelerate economic growth and social progress in the Bay of Bengal region through joint efforts characterized by equality and partnership.
  • Foster active collaboration and mutual assistance among Member States on matters of common interest in economic, social, technical, and scientific fields.


  • With SAARC facing challenges and its last meeting held in 2014, India, under Prime Minister Modi, has shown interest in shifting focus to BIMSTEC, aligning with its ‘Act East’ policy. 
  • This shift was prompted by tensions with Pakistan after the terror attacks. 
  • SAARC and BIMSTEC cover similar regions but differ in scope. 
  • SAARC is purely regional, while BIMSTEC is interregional and connects South Asia and ASEAN.  
  • BIMSTEC’s success doesn’t make SAARC obsolete; it enhances regional cooperation in South Asia.

Significance of the BIMSTEC and its charter:

  • The charter would facilitate putting in place a set of rules, a framework, and long-term goals for the organization. 
  • This will help streamline the operations of BIMSTEC and at the same time allow the organisation to enhance its potential.
  • It will provide a legal and institutional framework for meaningful cooperation and deeper integration of the Bay of Bengal region.
  • BIMSTEC Charter’s coming into force, reaffirms India’s commitment to a prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable neighborhood. 
  • The BIMSTEC Charter is a testament to the shared commitment of the Member States to promote regional cooperation in key sectors such as security, connectivity, trade, agriculture, environment, science and technology, agriculture, and people-to-people contact.
  • BIMSTEC’s significance lies in its vast population of 1.68 billion and a combined GDP of $3.697 trillion annually among member states. 
  • For India, it fits into its ‘Act East’ policy, aiming for regional cooperation in Southeast Asia and bolstering trade and security in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific regions, a focus area for Quad countries.

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