The Modi administration has struck the right diplomatic note with its BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach summit. New Delhi and BIMSTEC need to seek greater synergy in regional development and security. The BIMSTEC region remains one of the least integrated regions in the world. Some recent positive developments in the region could be further expanded to the BIMSTEC. India, Myanmar and Thailand have already begun talk on free movement of vehicles similar to the BBIN motor vehicles agreement. Such an initiative will cover most of BIMSTEC nations except Sri Lanka. With several bilateral and multilateral agreements between and among BIMSTEC nations already in place in trade, investment, connectivity in energy, road, rail, digital and pipelines, the logical step would be to expand them at the BIMSTEC level.
India has a trilateral maritime security initiative with Sri Lanka and Maldives that aims to enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean. Five BIMSTEC nations form key littorals of the Bay of Bengal. As all the BIMSTEC nations increasingly turn to the Bay’s resources for economic development, New Delhi could propose a similar maritime security initiative with the BIMSTEC nations for mutual maritime security in the Bay.