Embrace BBIN MVA through clear policy intent: CUTS
Dhaka, September 04, 2019
“While the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement (BBIN MVA) will directly and indirectly benefit the economies of these countries, there is an imperative to look beyond the agenda of building roads and simple exchange of traffic rights. It should be enabled with appropriate regulatory, financial and digital connectivity among individuals, businesses and government if we are to unlock the true potential of their economic integration with each other,” said Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International. He was speaking at a programme titled “Connectivity and Trade Facilitation in the BBIN Sub-region of the Indo-Pacific” organised at a hotel in the city today.
With support of the U.S. Department of State and in partnership with Unnayan Shamannay, Bangladesh, Bhutan Media and Communications Institute and Nepal Economic Forum, CUTS International – a global public policy research and advocacy group – organised this regional policy dialogue with the objective of what needs to be done for positioning the BBIN MVA for its effective implementation. The implementation of the BBIN MVA is expected to commence from the beginning of 2020.
Atiur Rahman, Chairman, Unnayan Shamannay, while chairing the opening, said that “Bangladesh has always been in favour of open regionalism and the present political equations among the governments of these countries are conducive towards an effective implementation of the BBIN MVA”.
Pete Gauthier, Private Enterprise Officer at the Economic Growth Office of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Bangladesh mentioned that any sub-regional cooperation should always look at how to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved and hence should aim at growing the pie instead of splitting it.
Speakers at the dialogue iterated that while the framework agreement for this initiative was signed in June, 2015 but the same is yet to be implemented owing to a number of challenges pertaining to infrastructure deficit, differences in regulations and trust deficit among its signatories. Coupled with them, cumbersome paperwork involved in doing border clearance is causing traffic congestion at border posts.
Selima Ahmed, Hon’ble Member of Parliament of Bangladesh and President, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry emphasised on the need for developing women friendly policies and infrastructure to encourage more women to participate in trade once the BBIN MVA comes into effect.
According to Mohammad Razzaque, Research Director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, “There should be clarity among the policy-makers on why a policy has been framed. There is no point improving border infrastructure if countries keep resorting to various trade restrictive measures”.
To avoid congestion at border crossings, the importance of multi-modal connectivity was discussed and the need for setting up Inland Container Depots, use of railways, waterways and airways as alternate modes of transportation were highlighted during the discussions. Most importantly, the participants were of the opinion that reviving existing rail and inland waterways would be much better investment alternatives than that in land ports which have already reached and/or exceeded their cargo and passenger handling capacity.
More than 40 participants comprising government officials, policy experts, civil society representatives and media personnel participated in this day-long deliberation. They also underlined that digital connectivity including the use of new technologies such as blockchains should be effectively used to develop an online trade facilitation platform and appropriate risk management system to facilitate faster cargo clearance at border crossings.
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