IS “BIMSTEC” A GAMECHANGER FOR NORTHEASTERN STATESBIMSTEC is a sub-regional, international organization of seven littoral nations of South Asia & South East Asia which has their borders attached with Bay of Bengal, namely, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Srilanka, Thailand, Nepal & Bhutan. The organization has formed specifically to enhance economic, social, cultural, technological and other sector relations between South Asia & South East Asian Nations.

BIMSTEC was primarily formed in 1997, in Bangkok, by Bangkok Declaration, at that time only four-nation were its members namely, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka & Thailand, therefore it named as BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Srilanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation), later on, 22 Dec. 1997 Myanmar became its full member country and the organization was renamed as BIMST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Srilanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation). In 2004, two countries Nepal & Bhutan also joined the organization and it again renamed as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). BIMSTEC’s permanent secretariat is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The main objective of BIMSTEC is to constitute a bridge between South Asian & South East Asian nations and to represent a reinforcement of relations among these countries and also to develop NER region by integrating it with existing trade networks and capitalizing on future opportunities. Before its fourth summit, BIMSTEC had 14 main objectives which include- Transport & Communication, Tourism,  Counterterrorism and transnational crime, Environment & Disaster Management, Energy, Public Health, Agriculture,  Trade & Investment, Technology, Fisheries, Poverty Alleviation,  People to people Contact, Climate Change, & Cultural Cooperation. But in the fourth summit, two more objectives included which are – Blue Economy & Mountain Economy. Among these objectives, India leads the four topmost objectives.

Recently, the fourth summit of BIMSTEC was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 30th to 31st August 2018. Leaders of all the member countries were present to attend the summit. To represent India, PM Narendra Modi was also present there and he talked about various objectives in the summit and also claims that BIMSTEC has an immense role in strengthening the development of North Eastern States of India. The North Eastern States are landlocked states and they have their routes to the Bay of Bengal only via Myanmar &  Bangladesh, if South and South East Asia has to strengthen its economic ties then North Eastern states will play a major role in it. Before BIMSTEC, NER(North Eastern States) had abysmal transportation connectivity. Its producers and manufacturers could not trade their products due to poor facilities and economic development. But after the advent of BIMSTEC,  proper attention has been given to these NER states.


Myanmar shares a 1643 kilometer borderline with the Northeastern states of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. The formal border trade between Myanmar & India is conducted by designated custom posts of NER states. Before the colonial rule trade relations between these regions were flourishing as it had adequate transport connection and other economic developments but after the advent of Britishers in the region, the development became stagnant and ruined everything and thus, isolated countries from each other. But now, re-emphasis is being given to these trade routes and again everything is developing to make it an economically viable region. Among these trade routes, one such is passes through NER states of India which needs special attention and development.

Similarly, Bangladesh also shares its large portion of the border with the North Eastern States and thereby, can trade with India and other landlocked countries(Nepal, Bhutan) with more ease by enhancing economic relations with India and can specifically contribute in the development of NER to make trade easier with other countries.

NER has received a lot of opportunities due to BIMSTEC and has a good chance to develop and stand in the equal position with other states of India. There are lots of projects which has initiated in NER, and in this fourth summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi again gave emphasis in developing the NER. Therefore, the development is showing its color in NER, although slow, the summit has certainly proven to be a game changer for NER states.

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