NEW DELHI:India on Monday signed a landmark motor vehicle agreement with three Saarc nations for seamless movement of people and goods across their borders. The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement was signed by Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari in Bhutan.
Calling the BBIN pact historic, he said it would promote cooperation apart from further cementing age-old cultural ties. “The motor vehicle agreement is the overarching framework to fulfil our commitment to enhance regional connectivity. This will need to be followed through with the formulation of required protocols and procedures in the shortest time possible to realise the ultimate objective of free movement of people and goods in the region,” he said. Another agreement involving Myanmar and Thailand is in the offing. “A major breakthrough has been achieved between India, Myanmar and Thailand. Three nations have agreed to develop a similar framework motor vehicle agreement on the lines of draft Saarc Motor Vehicle Agreement,” Gadkari said, while mentioning the initiative to strengthen connectivity of the sub-region to Asean. He said secretary-level discussions were successfully concluded in Bengaluru this month and consensus was reached regarding the agreement text.
“On conclusion of this agreement, our sub-region will get access to the larger Asean market through seamless passenger and cargo movement,” said Gadkari.
The Union Cabinet had approved a proposal to sign the Saarc Motor Vehicle Agreement during the Saarc Summit in Kathmandu in November last. Unfortunately, it could not be signed due to reservations by Pakistan. A BBIN Friendship Motor Rally would be held in October to highlight the sub-regional connectivity and the opportunities for greater people-to-people contact under the BBIN initiative.