Economy

Commerce Ministry asks MEA to engage with Bangladesh, Nepal to push motor vehicle agreement

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on September 30, 2019 Published on September 30, 2019

Representative image

North Eastern States, including Assam, have urged the Centre to expedite the pact

The Commerce Ministry has urged the Ministry of External Affairs to take necessary steps to engage with Bangladesh and Nepal for early implementation of the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicles Agreement, which could push exports from the North Eastern States.

“A consensus has been built on the protocol for movement of passenger vehicles while the protocol for movement of cargo vehicles has been tabled and is in the process of internal consultation in these countries. The Commerce Ministry has asked the MEA to engage with Bangladesh and Nepal to ensure that they move fast on the protocol for cargo vehicles and the agreement is ready to be signed soon,” a government official told BusinessLine.

A number of North Eastern States, including Assam, have raised the matter with the Commerce Ministry, asking for early action on the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) as it would ease vehicle movement between the States and the partner countries and, in turn, boost exports, the official added. The North Eastern states share 1,880 km of boundaries with Bangladesh, about 1,643 km with Myanmar, a total of 516 km with Bhutan and a little less than 100 km with Nepal.

The BBIN MVA was signed in June 2016 for smooth movement of both passenger and cargo vehicles. It has been ratified by India, Bangladesh and Nepal, but Bhutan is yet to do so. Bhutan, however, has given its consent to the three other countries that have ratified the agreement to implement it.

The agreement will allow member countries to ply their vehicles in each other's territory for transportation of cargo and passengers. The vehicles, would, however, need an electronic permit to enter into the territory of the partner country and border security arrangements would also have to be respected.

Once the agreement is in place, it would lead to exporters saving both time and money in shipment of goods as vehicles loaded with goods will be able to enter any of the four nations without the need for trans-shipment of goods from one country's truck to the other’s at the border.

“The initiative will lead to better integration of the partner countries and the North Eastern States of India with the global economy,” the official said.

Initially, India’s proposal was to have a MVA with all the SAARC countries. However, because of Pakistan’s reluctance, the initiative couldn’t take off. It was then decided to have a limited agreement with the member countries of SAARC that were willing to go ahead with the agreement.

The scheduled visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India next month could give a boost to the MVA as she is likely to discuss the pending agreement with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two may come up with a plan to expedite its implementation.

Published on September 30, 2019
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