BBIN motor vehicle accord to take partial effect by mid-2020

By Modnath Dhakal

Kathmandu, Aug. 12: The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) is likely to come into partial implementation by mid-2020. 

At least three members of the South Asia sub-regional grouping will be ready for the vehicular movement among them with an aim of enhancing regional economic integration through transport and transit facilitation.
“On a very optimistic scenario, the MVA will partially implemented in Bangladesh, India and Nepal half-way around the next year,” said Ronald Antonio Q. Butiong, Director of Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division, South Asia Department at the Asian Development Bank.
He talked to The Rising Nepal at the side line of the BBIN-MVA interaction organised by the South Asia Watch on Trade Economics and Environment (SAWTEE).
Butiong’s statement is relative to the upcoming meeting of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)’s finance ministers in March 2020 which will deliberate upon the proposal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on operating vehicular services in the three countries.
The SASEC will present the proposal for the piloting of the vehicular movement in the three members of the BBIN at the first-ever SASEC finance ministers’ meeting. “Signing of the instrument will open door to operationalise the MVA. However, we are not sure whether the finance ministers would sign both the protocols on Passenger Transport and Cargo Transport or any one of them,” said Butiong.
With an aim of enhancing regional economic integration through improving connectivity, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) in 2015 had signed the MVA as a frame agreement for the regulation of passenger and cargo vehicular movement among the four countries.
However, Bhutan failed to ratify the MVA which prevented the agreement’s entry into force which delayed its implementation, and the remaining three countries are negotiating the agreement.
Although trade experts and diplomats said that Bhutan was apprehensive of the negative impact of the increased vehicular movement on the environment and potential threat to its tiny trade, SASEC has maintained that the small Himalayan nation had not ratified the agreement but has not withdrawn from it.
“There are chances of Bhutan joining the agreement later. But we can’t say about the position of the country. We are facilitators and we don’t take sides,” said Butiong.
Former Joint-Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) Rabi Shankar Sainju said that the MoU would open ways for the piloting of the agreement which was necessary to find out the weaknesses in the agreement and make it a perfect one.
He suggested the Nepali private sector not to be apprehensive of the sub-regional integration but to develop capacity to compete with the regional and global players in the transportation and cargo sector.
“Nepali investors must start logistics business as it has a huge potential to grow in the near future,” he said.
However, private sector businesspersons said that Nepali companies might not compete with the Indian and Bangladeshi companies since the cost of logistics and equipment is higher in Nepal.
“When we are paying double cost for the trucks, containers and other machines, how can we compete with other regional transport entrepreneurs?” Naresh Agrawal, of Nepal Freight Forwarders Association (NEFFA), said at the interaction.
Prof. Dr. Puspa Raj Kandel, Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC), urged the government to hold intensive discussion with the private sector about the MVA and expressed his readiness to coordinate among the inter-government agencies.  

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