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The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectorial Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) came into being in June 1997 with the aim of promoting free trade within the region, increasing cross-border investment, tourism and people-to-people contact and boosting technical cooperation. The group of seven countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar—has a combined GDP exceeding $3 trillion and is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The region is home to 1.7 billion people.
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