The 15th Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) ministerial meeting was held at Soaltee Crowne Plaza in Kathmandu, Nepal on 10 August 2017.
The two-day meet was inaugurated by Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara. The meeting was preceded by the 18th BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), which was chaired by Nepal’s Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi.
• The main agenda of the meeting was to finalise a free trade agreement among the BIMSTEC members including negotiations on market access for professionals and reducing the duty on trading goods.
• It also meant to finalise the date of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit that will be hosted by the Nepal, the current chair of the sub-regional forum.
• Issues concerning trade in services and goods, investments and connectivity were also discussed at the meet.
• The inaugural procession was attended by the Foreign and External Affairs Ministers from the member nations including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka and the Deputy Foreign Ministers from Myanmar and Thailand.
• India was represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who arrived at Kathmandu on the morning of 10 August.
• Swaraj held brief talks and meetings with Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
Further, after the inauguration ceremony, all the delegates had a brief bilateral meeting, following which they were invited for dinner hosted by Nepal Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara.
The two-day meet will conclude on 11 August 2017, by the end of the day.
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