BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Bangladesh India Myanmar Sri Lanka and Thailand Technical and Economic Cooperation was founded in 1997. A sub-regional monetary cooperation alliance was established in Bangkok in June 1997. Myanmar joined the group at the end of December 1997. Bhutan and Nepal were also joined in February 2004. The association is made up of five ASAC members (India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and two ASEAN members (Thailand, Myanmar). This is why it is viewed as a “link” between the two major regional groups ASEAN and SAARC. The presidency of BIMSTEC is in alphabetical order among the Member States. The group`s immediate priority is the consolidation of its activities and the attraction for economic cooperation. Typically, trade agreements, including the one with the Association of South Asian Nations (Asean), have not worked in India`s favour, but experts felt that New Delhi should not only remain in common with other countries to stimulate trade, but also to be heard within the international community.

Foreign Minister Harsh Shringla`s seven-day trip to Europe a few weeks ago is seen as an important development in this direction. On Thursday, the first autonomous summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Xavier Bettel was held via videoconference, the first highlighting the need to expand trade and economic cooperation between India and the EU. While this is a good step, our future FTA negotiating strategy and tariff plans must be fully adapted to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat strategy to expand the champion sectors. This is not a total protection for these industries, but a gradual reduction in import duties under the free trade agreement for years to allow them to fully integrate into global value chains (CICs). In 2007-08, India has free trade agreements with the European EFTA (European Free Trade Area) and EU (European Union) force packages, but in 2013 discussions with the EU on issues such as India`s market access to cars and alcohol from the EU and Delhi`s refusal to open up its public procurement and financial services sector , such as banks, insurance and e-commerce, have taken up the work.