Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal sign motor vehicle agreement

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) have signed a regional motor vehicle agreement, paving the way of movement of both people and goods among the four SAARC member countries.

Published : 15 June 2015, 07:40 AM
Updated : 18 June 2015, 02:41 PM

The signing on Monday at the Bhutanese capital Thimphu contrasts the SAARC’s collective failure to ink such a deal in last year’s Nov summit, blamed mainly on Pakistan’s reservations.
Transport ministers of the four countries signed the agreement, Chargé d'affaires of Bangladesh embassy in Bhutan Md Anisur Rahman told 
With the signing of the agreement, sub-regional connectivity will receive a boost.
The agreement has three components—movements of individual vehicle, passenger vehicles and cargo.
It is expected that after the signing Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay will flag off a vehicle that will run on the Thimphu- Bhutan-Gowahati-Shillong-Sylhet-Benapole-Kolkata route.
Bangladesh’s Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader before leaving for Bhutan said it would take few months to prepare the protocols before the pact could be implemented.
He hoped it would begin early next year on a limited scale.
“This would open a new avenue of economic prosperity,” Dhaka-based think-tank CPD’s Executive Director Mustafizur Rahman told
Bangladesh’s trade with India, Bhutan and Nepal was growing, though according to the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it was still in favour of those countries.

Bangladesh imports goods worth around $25 million from Bhutan but its exports to that country is only around $2 million.
Trade is heavily tilted towards India.
Nepal’s exports stands at $35.6 million compared to Bangladesh’s $26.41 million.
Land ports are mainly used for Bangladesh’s trade with these three neighbours.
Dhaka-based envoys of India, Bhutan and Nepal along with a Bangladesh foreign ministry official last year travelled through the land ports of the the four SAARC countries to inspect the road connections and border infrastructure that businesses use.
With the signing, Bangladeshis truckers will be able to go to Bhutan and Nepal using India. At the same time, India will be able to carry goods using Bangladesh.
“This will increase our trade. But we must develop our own infrastructure for getting maximum benefits of this deal,” Prof Rahman said, suggesting roads development and improvement of border infrastructure.
“India’s $2 billion line of credit can be used for developing our infrastructure,” he said, pointing at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement during his just concluded Dhaka visit.

According to the deal titled ‘Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal, and Cargo Vehicular Traffic with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN)’, valid documents would be needed for vehicles to cross over to another country.

The vehicles must have insurance and should not carry the goods included in prohibited and restricted list of the travelling country. Authorised officials can search the vehicles.

They would not be allowed to take passengers or load goods midway in any country.

Bangladesh’s Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan last week, after the Cabinet approval of the draft had said, destination country would determine the fees and road charges for the movement of vehicles and those would be collected at its entry points.

He said if a vehicle travels from Nepal to Bangladesh through India, fees would have to be paid to both India and Bangladesh.

Vehicles operators would be able to open branch offices and appoint agents in any of the countries. Act of a country will get priority in cases, which are not mentioned in the agreement.

The agreement will be reviewed in every three years or earlier on consensus, and any country can pull out of it giving a six months’ notice.

Though other SAARC countries are not included in the agreement, there is a provision for inclusion of a new country on consensus.