Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM)
19 Sep 2016. Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM) is a sub-regional organization of Asian nations aimed at greater integration of trade and investment between the four countries. A 3500 km long economic corridor ( EC) is planned from Kunming to Kolkata, linking Mandalay in Myanmar as well as Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh.It will effectively combine road, rail, water and air linkages in the region.The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China-Mexico Investment Fund and Silk Road Infrastructure Fund are providing the initial capital. In this blog we analyze BCIM-EC.
- The concept of economic cooperation within the BCIM region was first developed by Professor Rehman Sobhan of Bangladesh who advocated that multi-modal transport connectivity and infrastructure development could significantly reduce transaction costs, stimulate trade and investment and consequently accelerate growth and poverty alleviation in this region.
- This idea led to the development of the platform in the 1990s which came to be known as the ‘Kunming Initiative’. The first meeting of the initiative was convened in 1999 in Kunming, China.
- The ‘Kunming Initiative’ developed into what came to be popularly known as the BCIM Forum.
- Another crucial development in the process of evolution was the creation of BCIM Business Council consisting of leaders from business and trade organizations.
Current Status of BCIM-EC
- In August 2016, China and India agreed to fast-track BCIM-EC. Myanmar has extended its support to BCIM in September 2016.
- The 2,800 km-long economic corridor is almost ready. A segment of less than 200 km, from Kalewa to Monywa in Myanmar, has to be improved. The segment between Silchar in Assam and Imphal in Manipur is being up graded by India.
- –The BCIM-EC is likely to emerge as the largest free trade zone of the world by combining the ASEAN Free Trade Area, ASEAN-China Free Trade Area and ASEAN-India Free Trade Area.
Benefits of BCIM-EC
- The advantages are envisaged to accrue from 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, tourism, development of value and supply chains through closer people to people contact.
- It would facilitate cross-border flow of people and goods, services, minimize overland trade obstacles, ensure greater market access by telecommunication networks, power and hydrocarbon pipelines and increase multilateral trade.
- It will boost industries such as processing, manufacturing, commerce and logistics.
- It will provide livelihood to the people along the corridor.
- India’s isolated North- Eastern states stand to gain by higher trade and connectivity with China and the rest of Asia.
- It will provide access to the sea for the North-Easter states.
- The corridor will help bypass the Strait of Malacca, which poses a major impediment in trade in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
- China will get access to Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean through Bangladesh and Myanmar, thus is a cause of concern from the security perspective.
China’s economic might is a major driving force in creation of the BCIM-EC. India stands to benefit from the same. India has to however be prepared for China exerting military influence by continuing to increase our military might and maintaining good relations with Bangladesh and Myanmar.