Can Thailand, Myanmar Replace Pakistan, Maldives at BIMSTEC Summit 2018?

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven countries including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal

At the 2018 BIMSTEC Summit in Nepal, India will look to bond with member states and neighbouring countries. While SAARC has become a redundant platform for India, BIMSTEC Summit 2018 will give India a great opportunity to further boost relations with Thailand and Myanmar as they replace Pakistan and the Maldives from the SAARC. 

Why is BIMSTEC Summit Vital for India

At the BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu between August 30 and August 31, Narendra Modi would try his best to enhance diplomatic relations with the Asian nations especially Thailand and Myanmar. India’s relations with the Maldives have been in shambles ever since a ‘pro-China’ Yameen Government has taken over as the President of the Maldives.

While India has provided military and humanitarian assistance to the Maldives for decades, Mali is constantly ignoring India amid growing allegiance towards China. But India can improve the situation for itself as Pakistan, China and even the Maldives are not a part of the BIMSTEC.

Opportunity For India To Mobilise Support Against The OBOR

BIMSTEC countries comprise of Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Among these member states, India has the largest and the most powerful influence. India can use this opportunity to woo these nations to incline towards New Delhi than Beijing. China is trying its best to wrap the Asian nations in the blanket of it’s One Belt One Road initiative and India can counter the OBOR here in the absence of China. Here, India will need to further boost its ties with Thailand and Myanmar.

Even Australia, the US and Japan have opened a combined front against China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but India decided to maintain a distance from this alliance. However, 2018 BIMSTEC Summit will now give India a great opportunity to garner support against China’s growing regional influence and gradually move away from SAARC. Besides Pakistan and the Maldives, Afghanistan is the one SAARC nation which is not a part of BIMSTEC yet.

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