17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meet:
17th BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Ministerial meet, chaired by Sri Lanka, was held recently.
- The meeting drew participation from all the seven-member States, including Myanmar which is witnessing a large-scale crackdown against anti-military protesters.
- In an effort to integrate the region, the grouping was formed in 1997, originally with Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and later included Myanmar, Nepal, and Bhutan. BIMSTEC, which now includes five countries from South Asia and two from ASEAN, is a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
- It includes all the major countries of South Asia, except Maldives, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
- Over one-fifth (22%) of the world’s population live in the seven countries around it, and they have a combined GDP close to $2.7 trillion.
- The Bay also has vast untapped natural resources. One-fourth of the world’s traded goods cross the Bay every year