BIMSTEC ministerial meeting: Bhutan calls for Free Trade Area Framework Agreement 

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade led the Bhutanese delegation to the 19th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting held on 8 March


The 19th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting was held virtually on 9 March, following the 23rd senior officials’ meeting held on 8 March.

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade led the Bhutanese delegation.

In his statement, Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji conveyed the warm greetings of His Majesty the King and best wishes for the meeting’s success. Lyonpo also underscored the significance of the BIMSTEC Charter in reinforcing the fundamentals of the organization and Bhutan’s undertakings as the lead country for the environment and climate change sector.

Further, he called on member countries to bring back focus on multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation, the primary fundamental of BIMSTEC. Lyonpo urged member countries to maximize efforts in finalizing agreements under the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement in order to stimulate trade, investment and growth in the region.

The 19th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting was held in preparation for the 6th BIMSTEC Summit.

The seven Ministers, amongst other important matters, approved/endorsed the reports of the 23rdSenior Officials meeting; BIMSTEC Bangkok Vision 2030; Agreement on Maritime Transport Cooperation; Rules of Procedure for BIMSTEC Mechanisms and the Terms of Reference for Eminent Persons’ Group in the Future Directions of BIMSTEC.

Additionally, Reporting schema for various dialogue mechanisms operating under the Security Sector of BIMSTEC cooperation; and the host country agreement between the Government of India and BIMSTEC Secretariat for establishing the BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate in India were also deliberated.

Furthermore, the Mountain Economy was also approved to be included as a sub-sector under Environment and Climate Change sector.

The 6th BIMSTEC Summit has been proposed to be held on 30th November in Thailand and is expected to be the first in-person summit in five years.

The Summit will be preceded by the 20th Ministerial Meeting which will be held in conjunction with the 24th Senior Officials Meeting on 29th November 2023.

Founded in 1997 with the aim of promoting economic and technical cooperation in the Bay of Bengal Region, its seven member states today house 1.73 billion people and have a combined GDP of USD 4.4 trillion.

Bhutan has actively engaged in the proceedings of BIMSTEC since its membership to the organization in 2004.