Tuesday, 17 May, 2022

Implementing BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement

MoU finalised

NEW DELHI: After a gap of seven years, an enabling Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementation of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement was finalised in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Although Bhutan is a member of the BBIN group, the country has yet not taken the final decision on this MoU.

Indian External Affairs Ministry sources told this correspondent that it has been decided at this moment that India, Bangladesh and Nepal will go ahead with the agreement, which will be signed at a later date.

As an observer to the BBIN, a representative from Bhutan was present at the meeting on Tuesday.

Once it is signed, passenger and cargo vessels will have seamless travel among the three countries. Even one can travel these countries in personal vehicle by road.

India, Bangladesh and Nepal held a two-day meeting in New Delhi from Monday. The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary of External Affairs Smita Panth.

Bangladesh delegation was led by ATM Rokebul Haque, Director General (South Asia) and the Nepalese delegation was headed by Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Keshab Kumar Sharma.

The Bhutanese observer team was headed by first Secretary of Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi.

As Bhutan Parliament has yet to ratify the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA), it was decided to go ahead with rest three countries first. Option was kept open for Bhutan to join at later stage.   

Indian External Affairs Ministry said the meeting was held to discuss the passenger and cargo protocols that are essential to operationalise the BBIN MVA for the regulation of passenger, personal and cargo vehicular traffic between Bangladesh, India and Nepal at the first stage. This basic agreement was signed on June 15 in 2015.

For operationalisation of the agreement, details traffic rules are to be finalised in the proposed MoU.

This is the first meeting of the group since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The last meeting was held in New Delhi in February 2020.

A joint statement issued after the meeting emphasised recalling the commitments made at the highest level (PM level) for implementation of the BBIN MVA. The delegations expressed their desire to sign the MoU at the earliest to give momentum to the implementation.

Three countries emphasised the importance of operationalising the BBIN MVA expeditiously to enable seamless movement between them for facilitating trade and people to people contact.

The statement says operationalising the MVA by concluding the passenger and cargo protocol will help realise the full potential of trade and people to people contact connectivity between BBIN countries by fostering greater sub-regional cooperation.

All the three countries agreed on specific steps and timeline to expeditiously finalise the passenger and cargo protocols for the implementation of the BBIN MVA. Representative of Asian Development Bank provided technical and knowledge support to the meeting.