An early Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among the seven Bimstec nations would spur trade and improve connectivity in the region, a study by an industry body has said y.
"The FTA has to be signed soon by the seven member-countries to operationalise the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), an international organisation, representing Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal," the study by Association Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) flagged.
"Members of Bimstec have been struggling to negotiate a FTA over a decade by other instruments, which gained precedence," said Preeti Saran, secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry, after releasing the study.
Study was jointly released by Saran and Bangladesh state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam at the seventh Assocham-Bimstec business forum here.
"Even as we strive to open our borders to free trade in goods. I think the potential for the future lies in investments in the services sector," said Saran.
An early trade deal will also stimulate production links among member countries and help in rationalising non-tariff measures.
"What Bimstec needs is handholding and leadership to harness these resources for its own good," noted the study of the Assocham.