BBIN Sub-region Needs a Cooperative Approach for Multi-modal Connectivity: CUTS International

September 01, 2021

“The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) sub-region should develop a cooperative approach for multi-modal connectivity, learning from successful sub-regional connectivity models of the world”, said Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director of CUTS International, a global public policy think- and action-tank on trade, regulations and governance. He was speaking in a webinar organised by CUTS International to discuss the intermodal transport connectivity lessons from Central, South and Southeast Asia for the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) sub-region.

He said initiatives such as India’s upcoming national multi-modal connectivity plan will be very crucial in boosting the competitiveness of the sub-region in terms of logistics performance. These initiatives should be looked at along with the larger picture of the sub-region and initiatives such as the BIMSTEC master plan on transport connectivity. The BBIN sub-region is currently one of the least integrated sub-regions in the world and the intra-regional trade is very low, standing at mere four percent.

Dongxiang Li, Lead Regional Cooperation Specialist, South Asia Department, Asian Development Bank, said that increasing transport connectivity is the key for the regional integration and boosting of intra-regional trade. He added that the BIMSTEC master plan on transport connectivity will provide a strategic plan for achieving seamless connectivity in the Bay of Bengal region. Strong political will along with development of a regional framework to harmonise the policy, procedures and practices of all the member countries is required for the successful implementation of the master plan. Creating sustainable infrastructure projects, along with addressing the socio-environmental impacts of the projects through proper evaluation and monitoring plans is important.

Blessed with large river systems such as the Brahmaputra and Ganges, realising the full potential of inland waterways will be significant for developing seamless connectivity in the BBIN sub-region, said Gopal Krishna, former Shipping Secretary of India, while participating in the webinar.  Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and Inland Waterways Authority of India should work together to facilitate a well-connected inland water transport system in the BBIN sub-region. Along with serving the commercial interests of Bangladesh and India, it will also help the landlocked partners Bhutan and Nepal to do trade within and outside the sub-region at a much lower cost.

Concluding the discussion, Bipul Chatterjee said that multi-lateral and international development institutions should contribute more for the soft infrastructure development including regulatory reforms and capacity building in the sub-region, along with their significant and remarkable contribution to the hard infrastructure development.

The webinar was organised in relation with the Working Notes published by CUTS International as part of the Enabling a Political Economy Discourse for Multi-modal Connectivity in the BBIN Sub-region (M-Connect) project.

For more information, please contact:

Bipul Chatterjee, +919829285921,

Jithin Sabu, +918606849057,