Narendra Modi looks to forge new ties at Brics, Bimstec summits in Goa
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New Delhi: Ahead of a summit of leaders of the five Brics countries— Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—and six other heads of state representing South Asia and South East Asia in Goa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday he is looking forward to new partnerships and finding solutions to problems bedevilling the region.
Modi, who is to hold his first bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Brics summit in Goa on Saturday, said the group will discuss ways to address “pressing international and regional challenges that stand in the way of our goals”.
“As chair of Brics this year, India has embraced a stronger emphasis on promoting people-to-people linkages in diverse fields including trade, sports, education, films, scholarship, and tourism,” Modi said in a Facebook post.
“It is anchored in the belief that our people are pivotal partners in our effort to craft responsive, collective and inclusive solutions,” he said.
“I am optimistic that the Brics summit will strengthen intra-Brics cooperation and advance our common agenda for development, peace, stability and reform,” the Prime Minister said.
“We will launch new initiatives in Goa even as we mark the successful operationalization of initiatives like the Brics New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement,” Modi added.
The Prime Minister noted that India is facilitating an outreach summit with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
“Representing nearly two-thirds of humanity together, we hope to tap the potential for cooperation and the dividends this will bring,” he said.
“India looks forward to building bridges to new partnerships and finding common resolve and solutions to our entrenched problems,” he said.
Referring to the India-Russia annual summit, the 17th since the summit-level dialogue was put in place in 2000, Modi said Putin’s visit will give an opportunity to consolidate and reaffirm a unique time-tested friendship and partnership with Russia.
Describing Brazil as an important strategic partner, Modi said President Michel Temer’s visit will open up new areas for cooperation with the country. A bilateral meeting with Temer is scheduled for Monday.
Meanwhile in New Delhi, Indian commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman urged a quick consensus on the signing of the Bimstec free trade agreement. A framework agreement to establish a free trade area was signed in February 2004 to increase the flow of goods and services in the region. “A lot has been said about how we have not still signed an FTA. Yes, that is a concern and we shall work actively to get a consensus to have an FTA signed amongst Bimstec countries,” Sitharaman said at a meeting of Bimstec trade ministers in New Delhi.
Sitharaman also pitched for boosting sea and port connectivity saying addressing this issue will make movement of goods “far more efficient, cost effective and also timely”. “There is also this issue of digital connectivity through Bangladesh. One of the main sea-linked optical fibre networks will also have to be strengthened,” she said.
The Bimstec region is home to around 1.5 billion people or around 22 % of the global population with a combined gross domestic product of $ 2.7 trillion.
Nepal’s minister of commerce Romi Gauchan Thakali said the country “attaches great importance to Bimstec and is very much committed to convert the framework agreement into a tangible document at the earliest possible”.