Four Saarc nations close to motor vehicle deal

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Feb 6, 2015-

Officials from India,  Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan met on February 2-3 in Kolkata to finalise a Motor Vehicles Agreement for seamless transit of passenger and cargo vehicles between their countries and draw up plans for its implementation.

The agreement will allow passenger, personal and cargo vehicles to travel along designated key routes in the four Saarc countries without the need for trans-shipment of goods and passengers at the border. It is expected to be signed at a meeting of transport ministers shortly, the Indian Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

Joint-secretary Devendra Karki of Infrastructure and Transport Ministry led the Nepali delegation at the meeting. The 18th Saarc Summit was expected to finalise the deal but it was delayed owing to differences among the member states. After the agreement is reached, member states will allow the vehicles of other countries to enter their territory for transportation of cargo and passengers under certain terms. It will result in enhanced connectivity and closer regional integration through road transport. The arrangement for implementing the agreement will be spelt out through protocols that the countries negotiate separately. They had already agreed to set up individual national committees and a sub-regional panel to aid the deal.

This sub-regional initiative, however, will be parallel to the proposed regional agreement, for which efforts are under way to find early resolution. Further, the membership of this sub-regional agreement would be open to all other neighbouring countries, should they so desire.

Upon implementation, the agreement will reduce costly and time-consuming unloading and loading of people and goods at the border points. It will also help transform transport corridors linking the four countries into economic corridors and enhance people to people contact. Building on the progress made in negotiating and finalising the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement, this sub-regional initiative will facilitate the transit of all types of vehicles as is prevalent in other common markets like the European Union.

The delegates of the four-country meeting, which was chaired by India’s Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber, recognised the urgent need to ease the movement of passengers and goods across their borders to stimulate trade and commerce.

Published: 07-02-2015 09:59

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