The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) was created by the Bangkok Declaration of 1997. It is a regional organisation with seven members: five from south Asia ─ Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka ─ and two from south-east Asia ─ Myanmar/Burma and Thailand. These countries combine a population of 1.64 billion people (22.3 % of world population) and a gross domestic product (GDP) of almost US$3.2 trillion. The organisation’s headquarters, inaugurated in 2014, are in Dhaka, Bangladesh. BIMSTEC pursues economic growth for its members through sector-driven cooperation ─ each sector being led by a member state. The initial six sectors (trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries) were expanded in 2008 to include an additional eight (agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people-to-people contact, and climate change). The chair of BIMSTEC rotates among member states. As well as sporadic summits, its institutional mechanism includes annual ministerial meetings, a senior officials committee, a BIMSTEC working group, and specialised task forces. BIMSTEC respects principles such as territorial integrity, political independence, and non-interference in internal affairs. This cooperation represents an addition to, and not a substitute for, bilateral, regional or multilateral cooperation involving BIMSTEC members.
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