10th May, 2019
- In an annex tagged with the Joint Communiqué of the Leaders’ Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum, which concluded in Beijing recently, the Chinese Foreign Ministry website has not listed the BCIM as a project covered by the BRI.
- Instead, South Asia is covered by three major undertakings — the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC); the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway; and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Possible causes for exclusion of this project from BRI:
- Citing “sovereignty” concerns, India, for the second time, did not participate in the BRF, as the CPEC passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
- India’s decision to skip the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) may have led to the exclusion of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor from the list of projects covered by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) umbrella.
- The Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM) is a sub-regional organisation of Asian nations aimed at greater integration of trade and investment between the four countries.
- This is a multi-modal corridor -combination of road, rail, water and air linkages in the region.
- It will be the first expressway between India (Kolkata) and China (Kunming) and will pass through Myanmar (Mandalay) and Bangladesh (Dhaka).
- The benefits of this cooperation are:
- greater market access for goods, services and energy,
- elimination of non-tariff barriers,
- better trade facilitation,
- investment in infrastructure development,
- joint exploration and development of mineral, water, and other natural resources,
- development of value and supply chains based on comparative advantages, by translating comparative advantages into competitive advantages, and through closer people to people contact.
- The concept of economic cooperation within the BCIM region was first developed by Rehman Sobhan whose pioneering ideas would eventually lead to the development of the platform in the 1990s which came to be known as the "Kunming Initiative". Over the years, the Kunming initiative developed into what came to be popularly known as the BCIM Forum.
- Through linking the ASEAN Free Trade Area, ASEAN–China Free Trade Area and the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, the corridor would constitute as one of the largest free trade areas.