Chittagong, Bangladesh: The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectorial Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC)’s Permanent Secretariat Headquarters will be established in Dhaka, according to the United News of Bangladesh.

The decision was announced at the 13th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held on January 22 in the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw after extensive negotiations between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, said a Foreign Ministry press release.

The decision to locate the high profile Permanent Secretariat in Dhaka reflects the trust and confidence of BIMSTEC members in Bangladesh, the release said. The Ministers at the meeting also decided that Sri Lanka will nominate the first Secretary General.

Earlier in the day, all BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers paid a joint call on Burmese Prime Minister U Thein Sin, who also addressed the opening session.

The BIMSTEC Joint Working Group meeting will be held in Dhaka soon to finalize all matters related to the establishment of the Secretariat, which is expected to be operational later this year, said the release.

While addressing the Ministerial meeting, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni stressed the need for increasing intra-regional trade. She also focused on intra-regional connectivity for facilitating trade and people-to-people contact.

She suggested that more prosperous countries shift production bases from higher cost locations to lower ones. “We need to focus on regional actions on mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer for meeting the challenges posed by the changing climate.”

The meeting focused on enhanced collaboration on people-to-people contact, culture, security issues, connectivity, tourism, energy, technologies, fisheries, poverty alleviation, agriculture, environment, disaster management, public health and climate change.

Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes, the Bangladeshi Ambassadors to Burma and Thailand, and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry attended the meeting.

BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The body was formed in 1997 with seven members including Bhutan and Nepal.