June 25, 2017
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Lacking will
Challenges and opportunities for BIMSTEC Realizing the importance of regional groupings and forums, which are increasingly evolving as strategic groupings of much influence, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has also decided to enhance cooperation in many areas, particularly through a Free Trade Agreement in a bid to increase intra-regional and inter-regional importance. India and Thailand, the two strongest economies of the grouping were the pioneers of BIMSTEC. As their economic interests grew in the region, the two nations realized the importance of a geographically determined grouping such as BIMSTEC which could promote and secure the economic interests of their own economies while dispensing development across the region as well. India primarily evolved and expanded BIMSTEC as an integral expression of its Look East Policy, while Thailand approached it in context of its Look West Policy. Formed in 1997, the BIMSTEC initially comprised of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. While Myanmar joined the same year, Nepal and Bhutan joined in 2004. This was the same year BIMSTEC held its first summit in Bangkok in 2004. However, despite India’s efforts to expand its Look East Policy towards a more fruitful direction, challenges in its neighborhood will substantially deter India to promote BIMSTEC in a credible way. Except Bhutan, most BIMSTEC members have serious internal problems,
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