The nations of India, Bangladesh and Nepal finalized an enabling Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementing the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) during a meeting held in New Delhi (Delhi) on March 7-8, 2022.
- Bhutan was an observer.
- This MVA aims to boost regional trade and people-to-people connectivity by fostering greater sub-regional cooperation.
- The pending ratification of the MVA by Bhutan was finalized.
Representors at the Meeting:
India– Smita Pant, joint secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
Bangladesh– ATM Rokebul Haque, director general (South Asia) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA)
Nepal– Keshab Kumar Sharma, joint secretary in the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport
Bhutan’s Observer Team– Thinley Norbu, first secretary in the Bhutanese embassy in New Delhi.
Key Highlights of Meeting:
i.This was 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.
ii.The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided technical and knowledge support to the meeting.
iii.The meeting was held to discuss the Passenger and Cargo Protocols that are essential to operationalise the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between the participating nations.
iv.India-Bangladesh-Nepal greed on the speedy signing and operationalization of the BBIN MVA by finalizing Passenger and Cargo Protocols.
BBIN MVA & Bhutan’s Position:
i.The BBIN MVA for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between the 4 countries was signed during a transport ministers’ meeting in Thimpu on June 15, 2015. This followed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) dissent on a regional motor vehicles agreement between SAARC nations, at a summit in Nepal in 2014, mainly because of opposition from Pakistan.
- Then in 2017, Bhutan temporarily opted out of it after being unable to get parliamentary approval for the MVA over sustainability and environmental concerns. The 3 other countries decided at the time to press ahead with the agreement.
ii.Foreign Funding: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has supported the project as part of its South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme, and has been requested to prioritise about 30 road projects worth billions of dollars.
- The World Bank (WB) also announced its interest in supporting infrastructure. Iy has estimated an increase in traffic-regional trade within South Asia by nearly 60% with this MVA.
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About the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA):
Union Minister– Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (Rajya Sabha – Gujarat)
Ministers of State– Vellamvelly Muraleedharan (Rajya sabha – Maharashtra); Meenakashi Lekhi (Constituency- New Delhi, NCT of Delhi); Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh (Constituency- Inner Manipur, Manipur)