China on Tuesday stressed on the need to upgrade negotiations on the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM–EC) to the government level as the third meeting of the joint study group, comprising representatives from government departments and business and research organisations from the four countries, started in Kolkata after a gap of two years.
The corridor stretches over about 3,000km — from Kolkata to Kunming in China via Silchar and Imphal in India, Dhaka and Jessore in Bangladesh, and Mandalay in Myanmar.
The Chinese delegation has come prepared with a draft mechanism for ‘inter-government cooperation’ that will be shared with the delegation from the three other countries during the two-day meeting.
The first meeting of the joint study group was held in China in 2013 and Bangladesh hosted the second in 2014. India was to host the next but it did not materialise in time.
Speaking at the inauguration on Tuesday, Wang Xiaotao, who is heading the Chinese delegation, said, “There is a need to put in place an inter-government cooperation mechanism and develop it into a regional cooperation mechanism.”
Expressing their keenness on the corridor, Xiaotao, vice-chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, said, “We have drafted the framework for the inter-government cooperation mechanism based on joint researches previously conducted by the four countries. The draft will be shared with the other countries during the meeting.”
Gitesh Sharma, additional secretary at India’s ministry of external affairs, who presented the keynote address, highlighted India’s Act East policy that “envisages mutual development and prosperity in our shared region”, and said that sub-regional cooperation in formats such as BCIM complemented the policy.