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India's Landmark Motor pact With 3 SAARC Nations

     India signed a major motor vehicles pact with three SAARC nations -- Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal -- that will enable seamless transit of passenger and cargo vehicles among them. A similar pact is on the anvil among India, Myanmar and Thailand that will pave the way for greater economic cooperation in the Asian region. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari signed the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) for Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic along with transport ministers of the other three nations at Bhutan's capital Thimpu.

     India, Myanmar and Thailand have agreed to develop a similar motor vehicle pact on the lines of the draft SAARC Motor vehicle agreement. The BBIN MVA will not only reduce transport costs, but also foster development of multi-modal transport and transit facilities, enabling increased connectivity and promotion of greater trade between the four countries. Transport Minister Gadkari, said: "This MVA, which would eventually allow motor vehicles of all categories registered in our countries to move freely in the region, is a first and small but substantial step endorsing the commitment of our national leaders to deepen regional integration for peace, stability and prosperity." As per the agreement, the four countries will carry out a six-month work plan from July for the implementation of the BBIN MVA in accordance with the preparation of bilateral, perhaps trilateral or quadrilateral agreements and protocols, installation of the prerequisites for implementing the approved agreements, among others. Gadkari said that India will work on signing a similar motor  agreement with

Myanmar and Thailand. In this regard, a major breakthrough has been achieved between India, Myanmar and Thailand. "Three nations have  agreed to develop a similar framework MVA on the lines of draft SAARC Motor vehicle agreement," he said. Secretary level discussions were successfully concluded in Bengaluru and consensus has been reached on the text of the agreement, he added. "On conclusion of this agreement, our sub-region will get access to the larger ASEAN market through seamless passenger and cargo movement," the Minister said.      Transforming transport corridors into economic corridors could potentially increase intra-regional trade within South Asia by almost 60 per cent and with the rest of the world by over 30 per cent. In order to promote development of land transport that will connect supply and demand centres in the BBIN countries, a meeting of the Transport Secretaries of the four countries identified 30 priority transport connectivity projects with a total estimated cost of over US $8 billion. These corridors and their related routes were determined on the basis of an analysis of regional and international trade patterns. Gadkari said the MVA is the "over-arching" framework to fulfil the commitment to enhance regional connectivity. This will need to be followed through with 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.

     This would need to be supplemented through building and upgrading roads, railways and waterways infrastructure, energy grids, communications and air links to ensure smooth cross-border flow of goods, services, capital, technology and people, he added.