Quarterly Newsletter
Issue #8, October-December, 2021


GatiShakti master plan- the pathway to a $5 trillion economy | 19.10.21
The GatiShakti National Master Plan is expected to transform India’s infrastructure sector and provide integrated, seamless, and timely delivery of projects and will further motivate private companies to associate with government projects and boost the Indian economy. This plan is anticipated to be efficacious as it promotes seamless and multi-modal connectivity with a whole-of-government approach. It will not only facilitate linkages and growth of the economic sectors but will also provide a sustainable income source, economic, and social benefits to the local communities who are directly or indirectly associated with logistics and other sectors.

Time to address local fears and concerns to connect the Bay of Bengal community | 11.11.2021
Several apprehensions and misconceptions have shrouded the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA) from its inception. All these apprehensions are primarily due to information asymmetry between and among the relevant stakeholders including government agencies. It is true that some of these apprehensions got amplified by local vested interests such as transport cartels, the governments of these countries should effectively address them by engaging with the relevant stakeholders and involving sub-national level political institutions.
Why Bangladesh Should Use The International North-South Transport Corridor – OpEd
Bangladesh’s participation in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) has the potential to boost its trade with Eurasian countries.
INSTC connects Central Asia with Europe. Using INSTC can be 40 per cent more time and cost-efficient compared to the Suez Canal. If Bangladesh joins the INSTC, it could benefit from enlarged markets in Europe and Central Asia. Additionally, Bangladesh can attract investors as well as textile raw material suppliers from other Central Asian countries. 
BBIN pact to boost Bangladesh-Nepal ties: Momen
Enhanced regional connectivity and trade can be achieved through early implementation of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA).
An eventful meeting was held between Bangladesh’s foreign minister and the Ambassador of Nepal in Dhaka, Bangladesh. From the discussion, it was highlighted that Bangladesh is devout to the early implementation of BBIN MVA for enhanced regional connectivity and cooperation with Kathmandu on matters related to trade and energy. Parallely, Nepal is keen to conclude the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) to boost trade and commerce between the two countries.
Chamber of commerce for Bangladesh, NE India mooted
In a bid to enhance trade between the northeast region of India and Bangladesh, business associations from both sides are working on setting up a chamber of commerce.
A preliminary discussion between business organisations from Bangladesh and the North-East region of India was held for setting up a private chamber of commerce for the enhancement of trade. The focus of the chamber would be to efficiently utilise the geographical proximity of the region as well as to increase the number of trade items and their volume traded between Bangladesh and North-Eastern India.
Port city yet to get master plan on multimodal transport 
Transport master plan for Chattogram still not in sight, despite multiple initiatives taken by the urban development authorities in the last two years.
Bangladesh’s second most important city, Chattogram, is still facing high metropolitan traffic jams. Multiple disintegrated transport initiatives are taken by Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) and Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) could not provide a solution to the problem and were unsuccessful in integrating mass rapid transit, bus rapid transit, rail, and waterways in the city.  
Bhutan highlights efforts for sustainable transport system
Bhutan has undertaken several initiatives for the development of a safe, affordable, efficient, sustainable, and inclusive transport system.
Bhutan in the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Transport organised by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) recounted several initiatives undertaken by the country. Different Initiatives such as Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport System, Low Emission Development Strategy, Surface Transport Policy, and its investment in urban public transport were also highlighted in the conference.
Bhutan eyes 25% hike in trade with Bangladesh in 2022
After, 35 per cent trade drop in 2020, Bhutan eyes improving COVID 19 situation to hike the trade volume with Bangladesh.
Bhutan is expecting a 25 per cent increase in trade with Bangladesh after signing the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Bangladesh and improving the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the year 2022. The PTA would give duty-free access to 100 Bangladeshi products in Bhutan, while 34 Bhutanese products would receive duty-free access in Bangladesh. https://www.dhakatribune.com/
Bhutan and India decide on more trade routes
Bhutan and India have decided on seven more entry/exit routes to increase trade and connectivity.
Bhutan and India have included seven entry and exit points for trade in the Protocol to the Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit during a commerce secretary-level meeting (CSLM) on trade and transit issues. Following the CSLM 2021, a Letter of Exchange was signed to include these entry and exit points as part of the protocol to the bilateral trade agreement. 
Poor standards, regulations, and certification issues hamper export
Exports from Bhutan to South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) faces various trade barriers.
According to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, Bhutanese exporters face a lot of challenges in exporting agricultural products and new products of finished goods of agriculture. Issues such as certification, quality standards, lack of laboratory equipment, and lack of proper legislation are prevalent amongst the Bhutanese exporters. In the report, ADB recommends several trade barrier mitigation measures.
India to set up 500 multimodal cargo terminals under Gati Shakti
Under a multi-modal cargo terminal plan, different modes of transportation like air, water, and roadways will be integrated to give a boost to the logistics sector
The Indian government will set up 500 multi-modal cargo terminals by 2025 under the Gati Shakti-National Master Plan. India's supply chain and logistics costs currently account for about 13% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The endeavour of the current government is to bring down logistic and supply chain costs, which can be achieved by building multi-modal cargo terminals.
Indian Railways to invest Rs 50,000 crores for development of Multi-Modal Logistics Terminals
India's national transporter Indian Railways has set the target of investment of approximately Rs 50,000 crore in the next five years to develop multi-modal cargo terminals. 
The Railways Minister, the government of India, said that there will be multi-modal passenger terminals with complete and seamless integration of all modes of transport. As per the plan, different modes of transportation like waterways, airlines, and roadways will be integrated with the rail network. And further steps will be taken to provide rail links to connect all airports. 
India asks BIMSTEC nations to work on strategy for financing master plan for transport connectivity 
India calls to develop a strategy for BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity. 
India has called on other BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical & Economic Cooperation) countries to collectively develop a strategy for financing and implementing the $126-billion BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity. The Member States have already made progress on finalising the BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and the Motor Vehicles Agreement, which would provide the legal framework for enhanced connectivity in the region. 
Common Tenders For Key Infra Connectivity Projects: PM Modi’s Big Idea 
Common tendering is a challenging task inside the government but it could be the real game-changer if achieved.
The PM GatiShakti project aims to synchronise the activities relating to greenfield roads, rail, and laying utilities like optical fibre cables, gas lines and power lines in the country and effectively coordinate between central agencies, state agencies, urban local bodies and the private sector. The proposed idea is that a single nodal agency may be made responsible for undertaking the efforts of synchronisation and undertake all relevant activities including “common tendering” wherever feasible.
Sub-regional connectivity: Whatever happened to the Dhaka-Kathmandu bus service?
Narrow regional politics may be led to the failure to start the bus service between Bangladesh and Nepal
The Dhaka-Kathmandu bus service was rooted in the BBIN plan. Although Foreign ministry officials did not issue an official statement explaining what led to the failure to start the bus service between Bangladesh and Nepal, several sources from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, requesting anonymity, blamed 'narrow regional politics.' At present, road connectivity between Bangladesh-Nepal and Bangladesh-Bhutan is facing visa complications and ‘hardware’ problems for the transit country. 
Nepal-India sign MoU for Kathmandu-Raxaul railway link
Nepal has signed an MoU with India to prepare a detailed project report for the proposed $3.15 billion railway line linking Kathmandu with the Indian border town of Raxaul
The proposed rail line to Raxual is seen as counter to China's bid to expand the railway up to Kathmandu. The broad-gauge line will give the Nepali capital a direct connection with the Indian railway network, enabling non-stop train travel to all Indian cities. Also, it enables the transportation of goods directly to Kathmandu from India and other third world countries. 
Towards multimodal connectivity
With geopolitics rapidly changing, Nepal needs to make multi-modal connectivity a reality
IN group of countries, Nepal needs the BBIN platform as it is landlocked and has to use Bangladesh or India to access the sea and ocean transport. Also, with regionalism and geopolitics going through constant redefinition, a platform like BBIN is apt for Nepal to reach out for its exports and make its imports efficient. Therefore, a proactive move is required to accelerate the discourse and make the BBIN multi-modal movement a reality.
Himalayan Quadrangle or Himalayan Triangle?
Nepal needs to reap the benefits from the rise of its neighbours, but it requires to carefully indulge in the projects which have fewer political consequences than more benefits accruing out of it in economic terms. 
While selecting the mode of transportation in a process of developing connectivity, integrated infrastructures at the borders along with all-weather access to borders, Nepal also needs to pay attention to the economic viability, affordability and sustainability in the long run. There could possibly be a Himalayan Triangle, a formation of three nations China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, rather than a Himalayan Quadrangle with the inclusion of Nepal. It would be in the best interest of Nepal to remain aloof without a security alliance. 
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