Kolkata - Bimstec nations, which have been negotiating framework agreements in regional cooperation, are likely to finalise the motor vehicles and coastal shipping agreements in the next few months, an official said.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), a regional organisation comprising seven members - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka from South Asian and Myanmar and Thailand from Southeast Asia, are negotiating in 14 areas ranging from trade, transport, energy, communication to agriculture, climate change, tourism, poverty alleviation, security and others.
"In Bimstec right now, we are negotiating all the frameworks and also negotiating on a coastal shipping framework. It is hoped to be finalised in the next few months," Indian Ministry of External Affairs' Joint Secretary (Bimstec and Saarc), Prashant Agrawal said.
Asked about the timeline for finalisation of Bimstec motor vehicles agreement, he said: "One cannot have a timeline till everything is done but it is expected to be done in next few months."
"Negotiations are happening and it will be a flexible kind of arrangement in terms of operationalisation," he added.
According to a joint statement in August after Bimstec's 15th Ministerial Meeting, the nations emphasised that enhanced transport and communication was the key to regional integration and agreed to expedite comments and observations on the Bimstec Framework Agreement on Transit, Transshipment and Movement of Vehicular Traffic (Bimstec Motor Vehicle Agreement) as well as the Bimstec Coastal Shipping Agreement with a view to negotiate and conclude these at the earliest.
The progress has been made in preparing the framework agreements on motor vehicles, coastal shipping, trade facilitation, mutual cooperation on customs matter, mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, Agrawal said on the sidelines of Bimstec Expo-2017, organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce.
On the Bimstec Free Trade agreement, he said: "The framework was already in place but specific schedules are to be finanlised. The trade negotiating committee's meeting have been happening for finalising the various schedules on goods, services."