KATHMANDU, Oct 31: Nepal, India and Bangladesh are mulling over putting into operation the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement even if Bhutan chooses to opt-out of the agreement.
Although Nepal, India and Bangladesh have already ratified the BBIN Motor Vehicle agreement, Bhutan is yet to ratify it through its parliament. Earlier, Bhutan had said that it would not be able to endorse the agreement for the time being as it is in the process of addressing concerns raised by domestic stakeholders and completing the necessary formalities to ratify the agreement.
During the meeting with Prime Minister KP Oli on the sidelines of the 18th summit of the Non-Alignment Movement held in Baku, Azerbaijan last week, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed bringing the motor vehicle agreement among Nepal, Bangladesh and India into operation at the earliest.
“If Bhutan has problems now over its operations, then the other three countries—Bangladesh, Nepal and India -- can start it,” Bangladeshi media quoted Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque as saying. Foreign Secretary Haque was briefing the media about the meeting of Prime Minister Hasina with her Nepali counterpart Oli.
Although the Bhutanese government has yet to endorse the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement, the Royal Bhutan Government had earlier decided to give its consent for the entry into force of the agreement among the three-member states without any obligations to it. Nepal has remained positive about implementing the agreement even if Bhutan takes times to complete the procedural issues.
Stakeholders in Nepal, however, have been arguing that there is a need to harmonize the local laws related to transport among its member states, determine fare for the truckers and put in place a compatible system for electronic data interchange so that customs points of the participating countries can share the data on vehicles of one country entering another member country before bringing the motor vehicle agreement into implementation.
Nepal, B’desh agree to finalize Preferential Trade Agreement soon
Nepal and Bangladesh have also agreed to finalize the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries at the earliest to boost trade and commerce. The issue was discussed during the meeting between Prime Minister KP Oli and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The two countries are likely to reach various agreements including the PTA during the visit of Bangladeshi President M Abdul Hamid to Nepal next month. Although the exact date of the visit has not been fixed, Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Haque confirmed that the president will be visiting Nepal in November.
During a meeting of Nepal-Bangladesh Technical Committee held in Kathmandu last week, the two countries have reached an understanding on five different issues to facilitate and expand trades and transit between the two countries.
Officials at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply said Nepal and Bangladesh have reached an understanding to sign agreements on cargo transport, launching of passenger bus between Nepal and Bangladesh and agreement on pesticide residue tests between the two countries.
Among other things, the two countries have also reached an understanding to remove non-tariff barriers that exist between the two countries to promote trade and investment. Bangladesh has placed non-tariff barriers on Nepal’s exports of yarns, agricultural and herbal products.