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Press reports on Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity

held at Brac Centre Inn on Saturday, 20 June 2015, press reports on “Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity: Operationalising the Motor Vehicle Agreements (MVAs)”

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Published in The Financial Express

Connectivity strategy needs to be aligned with investment
Speakers tell a CPD dialogue

FE Report

Signing of the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) among four countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) — will open up a new era of regional connectivity and help boost the South Asian cooperation.

Speakers at the dialogue on ‘Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity: Operationalising the Motor Vehicle Agreements (MVAs)’ on Saturday expressed the view stressing the need for more coordination and concordance of protocols and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) among the MVAs.

They also demanded a comprehensive connectivity strategy which, they said, should be aligned with investment strategy of Bangladesh.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a local private think-tank, organised the dialogue at the city’s BRAC Centre Inn auditorium on Saturday which was attended by a good number of economists, researchers, businessmen, academics and officials from government and non-government organisations.

Following this agreement, the cost of rail cargo movement between Kolkata to northern Indian states will be reduced to two-thirds, from US$ 30 per metric tonnes (MT) to $11 per MT, with substantial reduction of distance, almost about 76 per cent, said CPD Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman while presenting a keynote paper on the subject.

The agreement, Mr Mustafiz said, will open up new opportunities for Indian investment. There are Special Economic Zones for India at Mongla and Bheramara, coastal shipping agreement and seamless multimodal connectivity. The agreement (BBIN-MVA) will also facilitate transport movement within Bangladesh.

On the other hand, Bangladesh needs to invest about US$ 8.0 billion for infrastructure development to help establish closer connectivity with India. The infrastructure includes roads, rails, IWT (inland water transport) and ports.

Cost for per kilometre upgradation of roads to international standard in view of the BBIN-MVA in Bangladesh context is estimated at Tk 250-300 million (approximately US$ 3.7 million), said the analysis. To reap more benefits from the agreement, speakers expressed the view that BBIN-MVA and SAARC MVA need to be mutually aligned to each other.

Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader, who attended the programme as the chief guest, said Bangladesh is trying its best to develop its roads and highways to facilitate the regional connectivity and many of the projects are ahead of schedule. He said the Padma Bridge is no more a dream. It’s a reality now with almost 24 per cent of the works completed.

He pointed out that about 140 kms of 192 km Dhaka-Chittagong 4-lane highway has already been completed and the Dhaka-Mymensingh 4-lane highway will be opened by June 30 this year. He identified relocation of religious structures like mosques, temples, madrasha, graveyards and crematoriums as the main obstacles that hinder progress of the construction works.

Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran, who attended the programme as a special guest, also identified requisition of land for construction of roads as more complicated. This is hindering development of roads, he said. To increase trade and business between the two countries, he stressed the need for development of multimode transport system.

Mr Pankaj Saran urged the government for increasing navigability in riverine routes as transportation of goods from Haldia in Kolkata to Guwahati takes some 40-45 days.

The Indian envoy pointed out that US$ 2 billion Line of Credit (LoC) to be provided to Bangladesh by India will be free from conditions. “Not all of the loan will be used for infrastructure development. Only a portion will go for development of infrastructure and the rest in other sectors like ICT, education, health, power, railway and the areas the government prefers”, he said.

According to the speakers, South Asia still continues to remain the most disconnected region in the world with high cost of doing business and missed opportunities. Because of lack of transport connectivity, competitive advantages of Bangladesh’s exporters are being undermined and duty and quota-free offer of India remains largely unrealised.

CPD chairperson Prof. Rehman Sobhan, who moderated the programme, also stressed the need for increasing navigability. “There is no night navigability in the routes,” he said also stressing the need for reconstructing the Akhaura-Agartala Road.

The programme was addressed among others by Nepalese Ambassador Hari Kumar Shrestha, FBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmed, CPD distinguished fellow Prof. Rounaq Jahan and Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, former Tariff Commission chairman Dr. Mujibur Rahman, former commerce secretary Suhel Ahmed Chowdhury and Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association President Mahbubul Alam.

 

 

Published in Dhaka Tribune

‘MVAs to face financing, technical challenges’

Tribune Report

Implementation of the recent BBIN-Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) would face a number of challenges like financing, regulatory and technical, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said yesterday.

Standard operating procedures, weight of vehicles, axle load and dimension, road design and construction standards, prescribed routes, commodity classification system, rates of taxes and fees, and transits should be detailed out in line with the global practices during the next six months, according to an analysis of the civil society think-tank.

As follow-up actions since the BBIN-MVAs was signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on June 15, preparation of multilateral protocols is supposed to be held in July, MVA formalisation in August, negotiations and approvals in September, BBIN Friendship motor vehicle rally in October and preparatory work to be completed in December.

The analysis said the road maintenance fees levied by the host country on vehicles engaged in cross-border traffic (both transit and inter-state) should be commensurate with the road maintenance fees levied by the host country on its domestic vehicles.

“It’s not enough to design the implementation modalities to ensure win-win outcomes. It’s also equally important that this is perceived to be so by the citizens,” CPD Executive Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman said in his presentation on Trade Facilitation in South Asia Through Transport Connectivity: Operationalising the Motor Vehicle Agreements (MVAs) in the city yesterday.

CPD Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan chaired the event with Road Transport and Bridges Minister M Obaidul Quader attending.

Professor Rahman said MVAs should be examined in view of other recent developments to deepen economic relations taking place at bilateral, sub-regional and regional levels in South Asia.

The CPD analysis said all the relevant documents, including the BBIN-MVAs, protocols, permit forms, information about fees, surcharges and user-fees should be freely available on dedicated websites to ensure transparency in all steps.

It recommended setting up a national committee in each of the four countries to co-ordinate the issue.

The CPD executive director said various cooperation are now going on – in investment, special economic zones, development of roads – but all these should have to be integrated. Earlier, these were so much disjoined. “Because of this, Bangladesh failed to take full advantage earlier.”

“Transport and investment should be very much coordinated and should be reflected in the seventh five-year plan,” said Professor Rahman.

“If we have the MVA, obviously there will be lot of problem in terms of crossing the boarders. These will have to be decided, negotiated and consulted up front. Otherwise, we will have same problems as boarders are control points not crossing points.”

Laying importance on transport connectivity for the economic development, Rahman said South Asia has till date continued to remain the most disconnected region in the world, with high cost of doing business and missed opportunities.

Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Pankaj Saran said the main message of the agreement is that the countries are ready to help each other in areas – water, transit and trade – going beyond seminars and conference rooms.

Identifying land scarcity to implement the agreement, he said the point of agreement could not be limited only to land as land acquisition is a real problem that hugely could have impact on road constructions.

On fees and charges, he said: “I think it is necessary to recognise that every single agreement that we have signed including this one, there are specific provisions which are mutually agreed on charges, fees and so on.

“When you about the transit and fee, you have to look at the market and stakeholder. We should keep in mind that total population in North East is 40 million. Economic activity of transit will generate transit business in Bangladesh to be seen in perspective. If you are talking of extracting the maximum benefit from the transit activity in Bangladesh, you have to keep in mind that who are the customers.”

He said the projects under second credit line will get priority in infrastructure development, education and health sectors development.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry President Abdul Matlub Ahmad said regional connectivity will bring huge benefit for this region.

 

 

Published in The Daily Star

Rail must get priority for connectivity
Analysts suggest as CPD holds discussion

Star Business Report

Railways should be given the utmost priority when developing multimodal transport connectivity in the Saarc region as it would effectively facilitate cross-border movement of people and goods, speakers at a seminar said.

“Rail connectivity has to get top priority. It will bolster trade and commerce in the region,” Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said at the seminar organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue yesterday.

The dialogue was organised to discuss the landmark motor vehicle agreement signed among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal in Thimpu on June 15.

The deal will allow seamless movement of passenger and cargo vehicles across their territories.

Many roads will be upgraded to four lanes to support connectivity, Quader said.

ASM Mainuddin Monem, deputy managing director of Abdul Monem Ltd, a leading infrastructure company, said a road network alone will not help to build effective connectivity. Rail and river systems have to be developed as well, he said.

CPD Chairman Rehman Sobhan, who chaired the dialogue, said container, truck and other logistics services providers would be the biggest beneficiaries of connectivity in the region.

The potential benefits from the agreement can be maximised by developing a comprehensive multimodal strategy, Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of CPD, said.

He stressed formulating the strategy as it would encompass four modes of connectivity — trade, transport, investment and people-to-people — all of which are critical to deepening regional integration.

Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of CPD, questioned the preparation, financing, fees and charges for making the agreement operational.

Some $8 billion is needed to develop infrastructure for four-nation road connectivity under the deal. “Where will the financing [for building the infrastructure] come from? Who will pay and how much remain unclear,” Bhattacharya said, adding that many other thorny issues will come to the surface in future.

Apart from the motor vehicle agreement, there are coastal shipping, transhipment, road and railway networks.

“How will all these issues be adopted? Who is coordinating them? What will be the mechanism to deal with this? How will it be translated into reality?” Bhattacharya said.

Ali Ahmed, chief executive of Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute, said funding all these miles of roads, railways and waterways is of utmost urgency.

Former Tariff Commission Chairman Mojibur Rahman said four countries under the deal can use the Swiss formula to fix the fees and charges. He did not elaborate on the Swiss formula.

“Railway connection is very important for connectivity and mass communication of goods and people,” he said, while asking why Bangladesh would build this infrastructure for others.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran said Bangladesh deserves credit for the latest development in the region. But connectivity should not be limited only to land, which is a scarce thing in the region, he said.

“We need to move on in all forms — road, sea, water and railways. Reliance on roads is going to be counterproductive.”

About fees and charges, the diplomat said it is necessary to recognise in agreements that there are specific provisions regarding fees, charges and other service fees.

“It [fee] is absolutely essential. When you talk about transit fee, you have to see the cargo and volume,” he said.

Hari Kumar Shrestha, Nepal’s ambassador to Bangladesh, said allowing his country to use Chittagong and Mongla ports would increase their trade in the region and reduce transportation costs.

Abdul Matlub Ahmad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said China too is coming forward to build connectivity through Myanmar to Kolkata and Bangladesh.

“I see huge business opportunities, especially in logistics.”

 

 

Published in New Age

Financing infrastructure, fixing fees key to BBIN motor deal execution: experts

Staff Correspondent

Experts on Saturday said the government should take necessary preparations including technical, regulatory and financial ones to materialise full advantages of the four-nation motor vehicle agreement.

They also emphasise on designing the implementation modalities in a way to ensure win-win outcomes of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal motor vehicle agreement.

At a dialogue on ‘trade facilitation in South Asia through transport connectivity: operationalising the agreement, known as BBIN MVA, they said that ensuring infrastructure financing and fixing fees and charges would be important for Bangladesh as well as challenges for implementation of the agreement.

Financing, fees and charges issues should be more specified while finalising standard operating procedures, they said.

Bangladesh as a whole may become a hub of land routes in the region as the agreement may extend in east up to China through Myanmar and west up to Afghanistan and beyond through Pakistan, they said.

The centre for Policy Dialogue organised the dialogue at the BRAC Centre Inn in Dhaka.

CPD chairman Rehman Sobhan said that the success of the agreement would depend on finally how it brings advantages and disadvantages to users, mostly businesspeople, while crossing borders.

Businesspeople should carry the cost of investment as they will be the highest beneficiary of the BBIN MVA which will allow them to carry their goods across the borders, he said.

‘Bangladesh can be the hub of land routes in the region after implementation of the agreements including Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Economic Corridor,’ he said.

Road, transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader expressed hope that other regional countries including Pakistan and Sri Lanka might join in the agreement to make the connectivity broader.

The door is open for all and any one can join the connectivity programme, he said.

Bangladesh will expand the key roads into four lanes to facilitate roads connectivity in the region, he added.

Emphasising on taking necessary technical, regulatory, financing and political preparations for taking full advantages from the agreement, CPD distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya said that the government should be more careful in making policy statement on the process of imposing fees and charges.

‘Without knowing the actual impact of following or not following WTO rules on imposing fees and charges, policy makers should not make any comment on it,’ he said.

CPD executive director Mustafizur Rahman said that the government should maintain coordination and concordance between protocols, SOPs and fees of BBIN MVA, SAARC MVA and Bangladesh-India bilateral MVA to realise potential benefits from the agreements.

He also said that all relevant documents related to MVA including protocols, permit forms, information about fees, surcharges and user fees should be freely available on a dedicated web site available to ensure transparency.

‘It is not enough to design the implementation modalities to ensure win-win outcomes. It is also equally important that this is perceived to be so by the citizens,’ he said.

Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Abdul Matlub Ahmed said that a joint committee consisting apex trade bodies of the contracting countries would be formed to monitor the progress of the agreement.

He hoped that gradually people of the region would be able to travel up to Afghanistan through Pakistan.

Indian high commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran said that the issue related to fees and charges should mutually be recognised for sustainable progress.

He also emphasised on multi-modal connectivity involving roads, waterways, rail and airways in the region.

Nepal ambassador Hari Kumar Shrestha said that the proposed MVA would reduce cost of transportation and doing business significantly.

Former chief executive director of Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute Mojibur Rahman said that users should pay for using infrastructure.

USAID Trade Facilitation Programme deputy chief of party Khairuzzaman Majumder, Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association president Mahbubul Anam and PRAN general manager (export) Tanvir Islam spoke, among others, at the programme.

 

 

Published in Daily Sun

Metropolis
Four-nation motor vehicle deal a big boost for connectivity
Speakers tell seminar

Staff Correspondent

Speakers at a seminar on Saturday lauded the four-nation Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) terming it a ‘big-boost’ in political movement towards materialising the concept of regional and sub-regional connectivity in South Asia.

The MVA was inked in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan on June 15 to connect Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN).

“It (MVA) is a big-boost in political movement in raising connectivity. It is finally going to be operational, which we have been talking about since long,” said Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguish Fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), at a seminar styled “Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity” held at BRAC Centre Inn in the capital.

Leaders of business community, officials, civil society members and SAARC nation diplomats and other relevant stakeholders attended the seminar, presided over by CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan.

Debapriya, in his course of speech, underscored the need for establishing a competent coordination mechanism for comprehensive tariff planning and management for use of road, wail, water and marine routes.

Speaking as chief guest, Minister for Road Transport and Bridge Obaidul Quader also expressed high hopes over the long-term benefit for the country and other counterparts from the BBIN-MVA initiatives on completion of the establishments of necessary infrastructures.

According to primary estimation, the entire MVA will cost $8.8 billion for setting up infrastructures. The cost will be shared by the four countries; of which Bangladesh may need around $2 billion.

Quader said Bangladesh will get finance from India to establish infrastructures for facilitating the MVA. “All highways linking Padma Bridge, Mongla port and Syedpur airport will be renovated to four-lane from existing two-lanes,” he said.

All the parties of the initiative in joint statement have renewed their commitment to substantially enhance regional connectivity in a seamless manner through building and upgrading roads, railways, waterways, energy grids and air links to ensure smooth cross-border flow of goods, services, capital, technology and people.

They also agreed to involve immediately respective authorities to initiate national, regional, and sub-regional measures to establish the seamless connectivity.

Indian high commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran said the June 15 Thimphu signing brought four nations to move forward the concept of connectivity to practicality from seminars and symposiums.

He reiterated his government’s stance over the Line of Credit (LoC), saying, “Projects under LoC will be at choice of the government of Bangladesh. This is a normal practice.”

“However, two key objectives of the LoC are expansion of trade and growth of this sub-region,” he said.

 

 

Published in The Independent

CPD wants all papers on websites
Success hinges on investment strategy

FOUR-NATION MOTOR VEHICLES AGREEMENT

Staff Reporter

Bangladesh can extract the maximum benefit from the Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal (BBIN) Motors Vehicles Agreement (MVA) through a comprehensive connectivity strategy aligned with the country’s investment strategy, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said yesterday.

The civil society think-tank also called upon the government to set up strong coordination channels among the different ministries for realising the potential gains from an integrated sub-region.

CPD officials said this at a seminar on ‘Trade facilitation in South Asia through transport connectivity’ at BRAC Inn in Dhaka. Prof. Rehman Sobhan chaired the seminar. Among others, Indian high commissioner Pankaj Saran, Nepal ambassador Hari Kumar Shrestha, Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) president Abdul Matlub Ahmad, former commerce secretary Sohel Ahmed Chowdhury, former communications secretary Dr Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman, and CPD distinguish fellow Dr Debapriya Battacharjya attended the meeting.

Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of CPD, made a presentation on the transport connectivity and operationalization of the MVA.

Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal had signed the agreement in Thimphu on June 15 to facilitate seamless cross-border movement of vehicles by reducing trade barriers and increasing the efficiency of the transport system.

Prof. Rahman said the investment cost in Bangladesh, in view of establishing closer connectivity with India, was estimated to be around $8 billion for infrastructure development for roads, rail, inland water transportation (IWT) and ports.

Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said, “It is a new journey for us. We should be optimistic regarding MVA.”

The minister added: “The problem is that our thoughts are highly ambitious, but actual implementation is very slow and limited. We talk much, but reality is very difficult.”

He informed that the government was going to develop the two-lane road connecting Dhaka to Bhurimari land port into four lanes.

About the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB), the minister said 20 per cent of the work has been completed. “It’s not a dream anymore,” he added.

Quader also said work on the Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane highway will be completed by June 30 and so there will be no hassles for home-bound passengers on this route during Eid.

The CPD said India would benefit from the transit movement as the distance between Agartala to Kolkata will come down to 400 km from 1,645 km as most of the new route will pass through Bangladesh.

 

The cost of rail cargo movement between NEI and ROI is estimated to be reduced from the present USD 30 per tonne to about USD 11 per tonne. As for road cargo, the cost will reduce from USD 150 per tonne to USD 50 per tonne.

It is not enough to design the modalities of implementation to ensure win-win outcomes. It is equally important that this is perceived to be so by citizens. Hence, the importance of access to information and transparency with regard to the follow-up actions, the CDA said.

All relevant documents such as BBIN-MVA, protocols, permit forms, information about fees, surcharges and user fees should be freely available on dedicated websites.

Protocols would need to have details of routes, route maps, location of halts, rest or recreation places, tolls and check posts for passenger and cargo transportation.

Permits for regular passenger transportation and regular cargo transportation will be on the basis of multiple entries, valid for one year permits for non-regular passenger vehicles for up to 30 days.

The agreement will not affect any existing bilateral agreements or arrangements between the contracting countries.

Pankaj Saran said there were big possibilities for Bangladesh to expand trade with Bhutan and Nepal.

About the fresh line of credit, Saran said it will provide for education, power, rail and ECT sector, and all the projects proposed by the Bangladesh government.

“We should keep in mind that the total population of the north-east in India is only 40 million and economic activities are not as much as in the rest of India,” he said. “If Bangladesh wants to extract maximum benefit from the transit pact, you have to find out the real customers for transit,” he added.

Commenting on the benefit of transit, he said there was a huge scope for Bangladesh to expand trade with Nepal and Bhutan in future.

About the issue of transit fees, the envoy said it was necessary identify it through every single agreement for charges and fees, including special provisions, which are absolutely essential for sustainable processes. He also urged the transit fees and charges in the market be checked as well as talks with the stakeholders and businessmen.

Regarding the implementation of MVA, Saran said land acquisition was the real problem in project implementation to establish regional connectivity. “The main message of the MVA is that we want to practically work together in building up connectivity of the four nations by going beyond seminars and conference rooms,” he added.

The Indian high commissioner believed that this initiative would be successful and all credit would go to the Bangladesh side.

Hari Kumar said the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports of Bangladesh was very important for Nepal and will increase in future. He also thanked the Bangladesh government for providing the use of Mongla port to receive emergency relief for earthquake victims in April.

 

 

Published on bdnews24

Regional connectivity vital for faster economic progress: Experts

Staff Correspondent

South Asian nations can achieve economic progress faster through coordinated regional connectivity, a seminar has said.

Private think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) organised the conference styled ‘Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity’ in Dhaka on Saturday.

“South Asian countries have to develop coordinated regional connectivity to get the best results out of economic development,” CPD chair Rehman Sobhan told the audience.

He welcomed the recent treaty on road transport between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal and said there was no alternative to developing coordinated regional communication system through road, rail, water and maritime ways.

Referring to China’s interest in a high-speed railway link between Kunming and Kolkata via Myanmar and Bangladesh, he said, “It, if happens, will create opportunities for massive economic development in the region.”

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said better communication inside the countries was essential besides inter-communication to improve the overall economy.

The government, he said, was taking up various development projects to this end.

He said the government had already studied the feasibility of the Dhaka-Chittagong Expressway, which is estimated to cost Tk 800 million.

He said the expansion of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway to four-lane would be completed by June 30.

 

Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Matlub Ahmad said, “The treaty for passenger and goods transport between Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan has created a new scope and possibilities for trade.”

He said, “This connectivity and regional cooperation will help South Asia become a top region for trade and politics. It will also create opportunities for Bangladesh’s promising tourism sector.”

 

The Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Pankaj Sharan, said the connectivity between India and Bangladesh would help both the countries.

He, however, said transit fee should be decided on the basis of relevant laws of the countries

“Many cargos come from India to Bangladesh with fly-ash for cement factories. They return empty. I think it is rational to set a fee after discussion with businesses.”

CPD executive director Mustafizur Rahman presented the keynote paper.

He proposed eight possible routes of Bangladesh for communication between the four countries.

Three of the routes were with India and Bhutan and another two with Nepal.

On June 15, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) signed a regional motor vehicle agreement, paving the way of movement of both people and goods among the four SAARC member countries.

The agreement has three components—movement of individual vehicle, passenger vehicles and cargo. Fees and road charges would be determined later.

 

 

Published on BSS Online

South Asian connectivity hinges on motor vehicle agreement

DHAKA, June 20, 2015 (BSS)- Comprehensive multimodal connectivity in South Asia critically hinges on implementation of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA), participants at a dialogue observed.

They said for deepening South Asian integration, the role of the MVAs would be key to establishing seamless multi-modal connectivity to facilitate movement of vehicles and goods, cars and passengers bilaterally, at sub-region level, within SAARC.

Trade and connectivity experts, diplomats, policymakers and government officials convened at a Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) dialogue to discuss how Bangladesh could align a comprehensive connectivity strategy with investment strategy to facilitate transport connectivity in South Asia.

Chaired by CPD Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan, the CPD dialogue on “Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity: Operationalising the Motor Vehicle Agreements (MVAs),” was held at Brac Centre Inn today (Saturday).

Speaking on issue as the chief guest, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Md Obaidul Quader mentioned that the borders would no longer be treated as separators but the main challenges in developing internal infrastructure is relocating local establishments while constructing roadways. He emphasised the necessity of field visit necessary to ensure quality of work.

CPD Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman made the keynote presentation in which he mentioned that South Asia has till now continued to remain the most disconnected region in the world, with high cost of doing business and missed opportunities. He mentioned that some restrictive features in the bilateral Bangladesh-India MVA, SAARC Framework MVA and BBIN framework MVA might need to be worked on to meet global best practices.

Professor Rahman recommended benefit sharing principles for determining tolls and tariffs; establishing monitoring committees for implementation oversight; designing widely accepted implementation modalities to ensure win-win outcomes; and ensuring access to information regarding implementation progress.

Addressing as a Special Guest, Pankaj Saran, High Commissioner, Indian High Commission said that the growing trade between Bangladesh and India in the past few years indicates an important structural change in how the two countries deal with each other. He added that following the MVA, roads construction will entail complexities of land scarcity. The land ports suffer from traffic congestion and backlogs of vehicles. To resolve this, connectivity needs to go beyond roads, involving all four modes including coastal shipping, waterways and railways.

Special Guest Hari Kumar Shrestha, Ambassador, Embassy of Nepal noted that the BBIN MVA landmark agreement will be beneficial to Nepal and it would complement the SAARC MVA, expected to be signed soon in near future.

Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President, FBCCI, noted that the MVA will facilitate huge benefits for logistic business. Tracking mechanism for vehicles should be put in place for operational and security concerns.

Following comments from CPD Distinguished Fellows Professor Rounaq Jahan and Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, the floor discussion was also addressed by Khairuzzaman Mozumder, Deputy Chief of Party at USAID; Chandan Kumar Dey, Joint Secretary, Economic and International Connectivity, Road Transport and Highways Division; Mr Monoj Kumar Roy, Additional Secretary (FTA), Ministry of Commerce; Mahbubul Anam, President, Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFFA); Yonten Gyantsho, Trade Counsellor, Royal Bhutanese Embassy; Dr Md Mozibur Rahman, Former Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI); Ali Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, BFTI; Mr Suhel Ahmed Choudhury, Former Commerce Secretary; Dr Mohammad Mahbubur Rahman, Former Secretary, Ministry of Communication; A S M Mainuddin Monem, Deputy Managing Director, Abdul Monem Ltd; Mr Md Tanveer Islam, GM-Export, PRAN among others.

 

 

Published by UNB

All BBIN-MVA documents should be available on websites: CPD

Dhaka, June 20 (UNB) – Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Saturday said all relevant documents, including the BBIN-Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), protocols, permit forms, information about fees, surcharges and user-fees should be freely available, on dedicated websites to ensure transparency in all steps.

“It’s not enough to design the implementation modalities to ensure win-win outcomes. It’s also equally important that this is perceived to be so by the citizens,” said CPD Executive Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman highlighting the importance of access to information and transparency about follow-up actions.

The economist made the observation while making his presentation at a dialogue held at Brac Centre Inn auditorium on ‘Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity: Operationalising the Motor Vehicle Agreements (MVAs)’ that signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN).

Road Transport and Bridges Minister M Obaidul Quader attended the dialogue as the chief guest.

Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran and Ambassador, Royal Nepalese Embassy Hari Kumar Shrestha attended the programme as special guests.

President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Abdul Matlub Ahmad was also present. CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan chaired the session.

Concordance ought to be maintained between Protocols, SOPs and Fees of BBIN-MVA and SAARC-MVA (and also proposed Bangladesh-India Multi-modal Transport Agreement).

The economist of the civil society think tank said there is need for a comprehensive connectivity strategy which should be aligned with investment strategy of Bangladesh.

“Monitoring committees will need to be set up for monitoring the implementation of the BBIN MVA,” he said adding that national committee to be set up in each of the four countries.

Prof Rahman said transport connectivity is the key to all forms of connectivity. “However, South Asia has till date continued to remain the most disconnected region in the world, with high cost of doing business and missed opportunities.”

On future challenges regarding MVA implementation, the economist said the road maintenance fees levied by the host country on vehicles engaged in cross-border traffic (both transit and interstate) shall be commensurate to the road maintenance fees levied by the host country on its domestic vehicles.

 

 

Published in News Today

Borders should be treated as connectors, not separators

 

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Saturday said all relevant documents, including the BBIN-Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), protocols, permit forms, information about fees, surcharges and user-fees should be freely available, on dedicated websites to ensure transparency in all steps, reports UNB. “It’s not enough to design the implementation modalities to ensure win-win outcomes. It’s also equally important that this is perceived to be so by the citizens,” said CPD Executive Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman highlighting the importance of access to information and transparency about follow- up actions. Prof Mustafizur said citizens need to know what the benefits are and what the cost involvement is in implementing the connectivity deal mentioning that at this century it is very important. The economist made the observation while making his presentation at a dialogue held at Brac Centre Inn auditorium on ‘Trade Facilitation in South Asia through Transport Connectivity: Operationalising the Motor Vehicle Agreements (MVAs)’ that signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN). Road Transport and Bridges Minister M Obaidul Quader attended the dialogue as the chief guest. Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran and Ambassador, Royal Nepalese Embassy Hari Kumar Shrestha attended the programme as special guests. President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Abdul Matlub Ahmad was also present. CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan chaired the session. Concordance ought to be maintained between Protocols, SOPs and Fees of BBIN-MVA and SAARC-MVA (and also proposed Bangladesh-India Multi-modal Transport Agreement). The economist of the civil society think tank said there is a need for a comprehensive connectivity strategy which should be aligned with investment strategy of Bangladesh. “Monitoring committees will need to be set up for monitoring the implementation of the BBIN MVA,” he said adding that national committee to be set up in each of the four countries. Prof Rahman said transport connectivity is the key to all forms of connectivity. “However, South Asia has till date continued to remain the most disconnected region in the world, with high cost of doing business and missed opportunities.” On future challenges regarding MVA implementation, the economist said the road maintenance fees levied by the host country on vehicles engaged in cross- border traffic (both transit and interstate) shall be commensurate to the road maintenance fees levied by the host country on its domestic vehicles. Speaking as the chief guest, Obaidul Quader said it is very easy to make big promises but very difficult to deliver on that. “We’ve a long way to go.” He said borders should no longer be treated as ‘separators’ rather should be treated as ‘connectors’ now. The minister also said the BBIN-MVA will open up a new horizon and the countries will be able to overcome all challenges to implement it. On Dhaka-Chittagong highway, he said it was a very challenging task. “I know how challenging it was I visited the worksite 103 times in the last three years.” About Padma Bridge, he said, “It’s no longer a dream but a visible reality. Please come and see our progress.” He said all roads linking the Padma Bridge will be four-lane ones. Pankaj Saran said the concept of regional connectivity has taken a considerable jump in the last few years a lot of credits will have to be given to Bangladesh. He said the message that came from Bhutan after signing the BBIN-MVA is that, “We’re ready to work with each other to advance the concept connectivity and go beyond seminar rooms.” “The success of BBIN-MVA is vast. The potential will unfold in the next few years. Problems should not prevent us from moving ahead,” Saran said. Nepalese envoy Hari Kumar said the four countries will have to ensure improvement in border infrastructure. He said his government is very thankful to Bangladesh and India as trucks carrying relief materials entered Nepal from Bangladesh through India without any hassle. “This is a good example that we can work together.” Matlub Ahmad said the business community is pleased that the BBIN-MVA is signed. “We can see huge benefit through connectivity.” Rehman Sobhan said the word ‘landlocked country’ will disappear from the vocabulary as the four countries are moving ahead to get closer to each other. He said he has been presiding over programmes on connectivity issues since last 20 years and there has been a massive change as the initial discussion was whether there should be any connectivity. Rehman Sobhan said today the whole conversation has changed and all are now talking about practical implications. “This is a great political progress and the Prime Minister should be congratulated.”

 

 

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