By Gyaneswar Dayal
One can drive in most parts of Europe with one common document in different countries. But in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan (all left-hand drive) which were primarily one country in the history and mythology one needs different documents and different permits! This often results in inordinate delay leading to high cost to the economy even despite having common land borders. But that is going to end soon with the BBIN-MVA agreement finally taking shape.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) signed this month will create the possibility of introducing a sub-regional protocol for a cost-effective, efficient and seamless multimodal transport system in the mostly landlocked region. Once implemented it will significantly reduce the cost of doing business and raise the standard of living in the sub-region, experts said. It rightly comes in the post pandemic time and becomes more relevant for economic recovery from the Covid-induced slowdown. The MVA, as well as a multimodal connectivity protocol, can have a significant positive impact on the economy. The implementation of the MVA can also help reverse the economic slowdown, experts said.
India, Bangladesh, and Nepal met together, and Bhutan was an observer. Once the three countries sign the MoU it will pave the way for implementing BBIN MVA. According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), MoU was finalized “pending ratification of the MVA by Bhutan”.
According to the MEA statement the three countries have expressed their desire to sign the MoU at the earliest as this will give a momentum to the implementation. Once the MVA is operationalized it will “enable seamless movement between them for facilitating trade and people-to- people contact. This will help in realizing the full potential of trade and people to people connectivity between BBIN countries by fostering greater sub- regional cooperation.
The meeting in New Delhi was held to mainly discuss the cargo and passenger protocols which are important to operationalise the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. During the meeting the delegates agreed on specific steps and timelines to finalize these protocols. Also present during the two days meeting the Asian Development Bank provided technical and knowledge support to the meeting. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, this was the first meeting of all the four countries in New Delhi. The last meeting was in February 2020.
Looking back at a summit in Nepal in 2014, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) failed to agree on a regional motor vehicles agreement following opposition from Pakistan. This led to the formation of BBIN. In 2017, Bhutan had opted out temporarily after it was not able to get approval for the MVA. At that time the other three countries moved on with the agreement. On June 15, 2015, the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal was signed when the transport ministers had met in Thimpu. At that time Bhutan had given its consent for the entry into force of the MVA, without any obligation to itself, pending the completion of internal procedures for ratifying the agreement.
Once inked the historically landlocked Nepal and Bhutan will benefit more. Both India and Bangladesh have vast sea routes too.
Source: Himalayan News Chronicle