By the end of 2000, the BIMP-EAGA countries had recovered significantly from the crises. As conditions improved, there was renewed attention on the less developed areas. Given the urgent need to address poverty and security issues in the subregion, the leaders of the EAGA countries committed to revitalizing economic cooperation activities.
Support also came from the leaders of ASEAN. At the 7th ASEAN Summit held in Brunei Darussalam in November 2001, the regional leaders announced their renewed commitment and support for the revitalization of cooperation initiatives in BIMP-EAGA as part of the larger ASEAN initiative to integrate the region’s economies. Furthermore, the Leaders identified BIMP-EAGA as a test-bed for ASEAN economic integration. The idea is that if EAGA is able to successfully implement its economic cooperation program, then such cooperation can also be achieved in the broader ASEAN context. In the same year, ADB was designated by the ASEAN as the Regional Development Advisor for BIMP-EAGA.
On 7 October 2003, in demonstration of political support at the highest level, the first BIMP-EAGA Leaders Meeting was held in Bali, Indonesia.
Several measures were put into action to bolster the revitalization efforts. Institutional reforms were implemented to strengthen coordination and consolidation of cooperation development activities. Linkages with strategic partners were established, alongside closer collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). New development strategies and directions were put on the agenda, namely:
• Improving transport linkages, both within and outside the subregion;
• Consolidating the subregion’s comparative advantages in the agro-industry and tourism sectors;
• Promoting the development of external trade; and
• Instituting more attractive trade and investment regimes.
Clearly, BIMP-EAGA is back on the development track.