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Enable BBIN MVA with financial, digital connectivity: Speakers
The Financial Express, September 04, 2019

Speakers at a dialogue laid emphasis on enabling the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) with appropriate regulatory, financial and digital connectivity to unlock the true potentials of economic integration of the signatories.

They mentioned that the MVA, which was signed in 2015, is yet to be implemented owing to a number of challenges pertaining to infrastructure deficit, differences in regulations and trust deficit.

The observations were made at a programme titled “Connectivity and Trade Facilitation in the BBIN Sub-region of the Indo-Pacific” organised at a hotel in the city on Wednesday, said a press release.

The speakers also underlined that digital connectivity including the use of new technologies, such as blockchains, should be effectively used to develop an online trade facilitation platform and appropriate risk management system to facilitate faster cargo clearance at border crossings.

CUTS International, a global public policy research and advocacy group, organised the regional policy dialogue with the support of US Department of State and in partnership with Unnayan Shamannay, Bangladesh, Bhutan Media and Communications Institute and Nepal Economic Forum.

According to the press release, the dialogue was arranged with the objective of what needs to be done for positioning the agreement for its effective implementation.

The implementation of the MVA is expected to commence in early 2020.

Mentioning that the agreement will directly and indirectly benefit the economies of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, CUTS International's Executive Director Bipul Chatterjee said there is an imperative to look beyond the agenda of building roads and simple exchange of traffic rights.

"It should be enabled with appropriate regulatory, financial and digital connectivity among individuals, businesses and government if we are to unlock the true potential of their economic integration with each other,” said Bipul Chatterjee.

Chairman of Unnayan Shamannay Dr Atiur Rahman, while chairing the opening, said that “Bangladesh has always been in favour of open regionalism and the present political equations among the governments of these countries are conducive towards an effective implementation of the MVA”.

Pete Gauthier, Private Enterprise Officer at the Economic Growth Office of the US Agency for International Development, Bangladesh mentioned that any sub-regional cooperation should always look at how to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved and hence should aim at growing the pie instead of splitting it.

Member of the Parliament Selima Ahmed, also the president of and Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries, , stressed the need for developing women friendly policies and infrastructure to encourage more women to participate in trade once the MVA comes into effect.

According to Mohammad Razzaque, Research Director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, “There should be clarity among the policy-makers on why a policy has been framed. There is no point improving border infrastructure if countries keep resorting to various trade restrictive measures”.

More than 40 participants including government officials, policy experts, civil society representatives and media personnel took part in the day-long programme.

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