America, you’re sending girls a mixed message.

BIMSTEC On 6 June 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok and given the name of BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation) Later in the year, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Nepal were brought into the arrangement and its name was changed to BIMSTEC Since the organization included all countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) except Pakistan and the Maldives, Islamabad saw it as a device to keep it out of an essentially South Asian grouping Pakistan was also concerned that BIMSTEC would stand in the way of the development of the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA)In fact, the BIMSTEC member countries agreed to launch a free trade area of their own by June 2005-seven months ahead of SAFTA The relationship between the two free trading areas was not made clear The BIMSTEC forum is unique as it is, to date, the only link between South Asia’s “Look East” policy and Thailand’s “Look West” policy BIMSTEC has identified six sectors for cooperation The trade and investment initiative is led by Bangladesh; technology by Sri Lanka; transport and communications by India; energy by Myanmar; tourism also by India; and agriculture and fisheries by Thailand The first leaders’ summit under the auspices of BIMSTEC was held in Thailand on 30-31 July 2005, at which the decision was taken to move more rapidly toward trade and economic integration

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