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Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal: Motor Vehicles Agreement

(Sept. 21, 2015) Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) signed a Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic on June 15, 2015 in Thimpu, Bhutan.  Aside from facilitating the cross-border movement of passengers and goods, the agreement is expected to “promote safe, economical [,] efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region” and will help to create “an institutional mechanism for regional integration.”  (Press Release, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic Amongst BBIN [Agreement], Government of India Cabinet website (June 10, 2015).)

According to a press release on the Agreement, it may increase trade within the South Asia region by nearly 60% and trade by the region with outside partners by more than 30% over current levels.  According to media reports, Bangladesh imports about $25 million worth of goods from Bhutan and exports around $2 million to that country.  Nepal exports $35.6 million worth of goods to Bangladesh and in turn imports $26.41 million.  Bangladesh mainly uses land ports for export and import trade with the neighboring countries.  (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Sign Motor Vehicle Agreement, BDNEWS24.COM (June 15, 2015).)

A proposal to sign a Motor Vehicles Agreement was originally adopted during the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.  According to a news report, the agreement was not signed at the time due to reservations from Pakistan.  The BBIN nations subsequently decided to pursue the initiative without Pakistan’s participation.  (Id.)

Implementation Plan 

The BBIN Transportation Ministers have decided to accelerate the steps for the effective and sustainable implementation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Agreement, starting with the “formulation, negotiation, and finalization of the necessary legal instruments and operating procedures.”  (Joint Statement on the Meeting of the Ministers of Transport of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal on the Motor Vehicles Agreement, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India website (June 15, 2015).)

As part of the implementation steps, the BBIN countries are planning a Friendship Motor Rally to be held in October 2015; installation of the technical prerequisites for full effectiveness of the Agreement (e.g., information technology systems, infrastructure, and tracking and regulatory systems) is expected by December 2015.  (Id.)  The parties agreed to each bear their own costs for the implementation of the Agreement.  (Agreement, supra.)