Speakers at a discussion on Thursday said lack of political will among the leaderships in South Asia is delaying the implementation of the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA).
An effective implementation of the agreement requires a congenial political climate in the countries (BBIN) because tensions at the border would always dampen such initiatives, they added.
The discussants also observed that Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) have been facing several challenges in implementing the MVA.
They stressed complete digitisation of land customs, single tax window, development of infrastructure, and security of cargo and passenger vehicles.
The observations came at the discussion titled "Connecting corridors beyond borders: Enabling seamless connectivity in the BBIN sub-region" held at the office of Unnayan Shamannay.
Chairman of Unnayan Shamannay Dr Atiur Rahman presided over the discussion jointly organised by Unnayan Shamannay and CUTS International.
Assistant policy analyst and deputy head of CUTS International Arnab Ganguly made a power-point presentation.
The participants at the discussion meeting said South Asia is one of the least integrated and connected regions in the world.
Intraregional trade is around 5.0 per cent of total trade of South Asian countries, they said.
They suggested replacing large-scale transhipment operations with easy movement of vehicles across the borders though a motor vehicle agreement among BBIN for mutual benefits.
Issues like procedural delays, infrastructure bottlenecks (particularly parking and warehousing facilities and security of cargo in such facilities) and corruption are delaying the implementation of MVA, they added.
The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) framework agreement was signed on June 15, 2015.
The draft protocols (separately for cargo and passenger vehicles) were finalised, but have not yet been implemented.
The speakers recommended setting up of integrated check-posts with all infrastructural facilities available under a single roof and use of ICDs as a single-point solution where all customs checks could be done.
The BBIN sub-region is home to 1.56 billion people (of which India constitutes about 87 per cent). The combined GDP (gross domestic product) of BBIN is US$ 2.5 trillion.
The discussants suggested making reforms of all the areas necessary for facilitating trade among these countries.
An integrated and well-coordinated network among the countries in the sub-region will act as a catalyst for developing cross-border value chains and connect these countries with international markets.
Enhanced connectivity through BBIN MVA will give a major boost to the economic growth and reduce poverty in the sub-region.
Dr Atiur said political cooperation among the countries is now at highest level. He suggested continuing with such discussions for the implementation of MVA.
Director of BIMSTEC Secretariat SM Nazmul Hasan, chief transport economist of roads and highways department Marufa Ismat, joint secretary of the ministry of commerce (MoC) AHM Ahsan, Emeritus fellow of Unnayan Shamanny Dr AK Enamul Haque, former commerce secretary Suhel Chaudhury and former additional secretary of MoC Monoj Kumar Roy, among others, were present.
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