Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron are well-placed to turn India and France into long-term partners in shaping the geopolitics of Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), founded in 1997, can help reconnect one of the world’s least integrated regions.
As Washington, Rawalpindi, Kabul, and the Taliban recalibrate their positions, Afghanistan is entering a very fragile moment.
There appears to be a need for greater cooperation in the maritime domain in the Bay of Bengal, given the increasing rivalries in the region.
While trade liberalization and transportation infrastructure should remain BIMSTEC’s key priorities, the Bay of Bengal will not re-emerge as a regional space unless there are significant investments to foster people to people exchanges.
Beyond its economic potential and strategic significance, the Bay of Bengal distinguishes itself globally by abysmal levels of integration, reflecting a deep divide between South and Southeast Asia.
The resolution of many outstanding maritime territorial disputes and the tentative steps for political and security cooperation in the region provide the basis for imagining a Bay of Bengal community that will benefit all the peoples of the region.
Two recent developments point to the new directions in which the north-western Subcontinent could evolve.
Despite its status as a key maritime hub in global terms and all its economic promise, the Bay of Bengal’s potential is hamstrung by a lack of close internal economic integration among the countries that call the region home.
Faced with growing geopolitical turbulence and more aggressive maritime maneuvering, India and France are eager to expand their strategic engagement in the Indo-Pacific.