Four SAARC Countries Move to Finalize Motor Vehicles Agreement

Senior officials from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal met on 2-3 February at Raichak near Kolkata to finalize a Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for a seamless transit of passenger and cargo vehicles between their countries and draw up plans for its speedy implementation.

 

The agreement will allow passenger, personal and cargo vehicles to travel along designated key routes in the four SAARC countries without the need for trans-shipment of goods and passengers at the border crossings. It is expected to be signed at a meeting of Transport Ministers of the four countries to be held soon this year. 

 

The arrangements for implementing the agreement will be spelt out through protocols that the four neighboring countries will negotiate separately under the framework of this agreement. They agreed to set up individual national committees and a sub-regional joint committee for overall facilitation of land transport and to coordinate and monitor the agreement’s implementation. It was noted that the sub-regional agreement would be a parallel initiative to the proposed SAARC transport agreement for which ongoing efforts to find early resolution would continue. Further, the membership of this sub-regional agreement would be open to all other neighbouring countries, should they so desire. 

 

Upon implementation, the agreement will reduce costly and time-consuming unloading and loading of people and goods at the border crossing points making cross-border trade more efficient. It would help transform transport corridors linking the four countries into economic corridors and enhance people to people contact. Building on the progress made in negotiating and finalizing the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement, this agreement would facilitate the transit of all types of vehicles between the contracting parties as is prevalent in other common markets like the European Union. 

 

The delegates of the four-country meeting, which was chaired by India’s Road Transport and Highways Secretary Shri Vijay Chhibber, recognized the urgent need to ease the movement of passenger and goods across their borders to stimulate trade and commerce. Md. Faruque Jalil, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges of Bangladesh, Shri Kinley Dorji, Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications of Bhutan, Shri Sanjay Bandyopadhyay, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of India and Shri Devendra Karki, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal headed the delegation of their countries.