Home Asia India, Nepal, Bangladesh Sign MoU to Boost Trade, Connectivity

India, Nepal, Bangladesh Sign MoU to Boost Trade, Connectivity

South Asian neighbors India, Bangladesh, and Nepal on 8 March agreed to finalize a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA); the agreement is aimed at boosting regional trade and connectivity.

The BBIN connectivity project was proposed after Pakistan vetoed a similar proposal among the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. The proposal was first discussed at the Nepal summit in 2014. The BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal, and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan was signed during a transport ministers’ meeting in Thimpu in 2015.

There were glitches especially when in 2017, Bhutan opted out of the BBIN proposal, as the parliament did not approve the MVA. India, Bangladesh, and Nepal decided to go ahead with the talks to implement the proposal. 

During the latest round of talks when the MoU was finalized in Delhi, Bhutan participated as an observer. Bhutan is yet to ratify this MoU.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry in a statement said, “Recalling the commitments made at the highest level for implementation of the BBIN MVA, the delegations expressed their desire to sign the MoU at the earliest to give momentum to the implementation.” The ministry also added that the signatories emphasized operationalizing this agreement will “enable seamless movement between them for facilitating trade and people-to-people contact”. 

The signatories would require to adopt passenger and cargo protocols to operationalize the agreement. 

The meeting was held primarily to discuss the passenger and cargo protocols that are essential to operationalize the MVA. The delegates from the three countries agreed on specific measures that require to be adopted to finalize these protocols. 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided technical and knowledge support for the meeting.

Smita Pant, joint secretary in the external affairs ministry from India, ATM Rokebul Haque, director general (South Asia) in the foreign ministry of Bangladesh, and Keshab Kumar Sharma, joint secretary in the ministry of physical infrastructure and transport, Nepal led their teams during the meeting. The Bhutanese observer team was led by Thinley Norbu, the first secretary in the Bhutanese embassy in Delhi.