The success stories of the EU and ASEAN generated serious interest among the South Asian neighbours to also come together and forge closer links with each other. Bounded by geographical proximity and the commonalities of a historically shared cultural heritage, countries in the South and Southeast Asian neighbourhood realized the potential and need for greater cooperation among each other. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is one of the regional trading agreements (RTAs) entered upon by sovereign nations of South and Southeast Asia—India, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal—lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal. BIMSTEC formed on June 6, 1997, was originally termed as BIST-EC an acronym of the names of the original member countries of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand-Economic Cooperation. Myanmar was an observer in the inaugural meeting andduring a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok it joined the bloc as a member on December 22, 1997. The group was then rechristened as BIMST-EC to include Myanmar, i.e., Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation. At the 6th Ministerial Meeting held in February 2004 in Thailand, both Nepal and Bhutan were formally admitted with full membership. In the first Summit on July 31, 2004, leaders of the group renamed it as BIMSTEC—Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. As the name suggests, the aims and purposes of the group, are to foster rapid economic development and social progress by creating an enabling environment on matters of common interest related to economic, social, technical and scientific fields in the sub-region. It covers fifteen priority 194sectors, namely (i) trade and investment, (ii) technology, (iii) energy, (iv) transport and communication, (v) tourism, (vi) fisheries, (vii) agriculture, (viii) cultural cooperation, (ix) environment and disaster management, (x) public health, (xi) people-to-people contract, (xii) poverty alleviation, (xiii) counter-terrorism and transnational crimes and (xiv) climate change. 1