Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal

Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) of the BBIN


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MVA, BBIN

Mains level : BBIN and its significance

With Bhutan continuing to sit out the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) of the sub-regional Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) grouping, a meeting of the other three countries was held to discuss the next steps in operationalizing the agreement for the free flow of goods and people between them.

What is Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA)?

  • India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh signed a Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic among the four South Asian neighbours.
  • It was signed on 15 June 2015 at the BBIN transport ministers meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan.
  • The act will facilitate a way for a seamless movement of people and goods across their borders for the benefit and integration of the region and its economic development.

Key terms of the Agreement

  • Trans-shipment of goods: Cargo vehicles will be able to enter any of the four nations without the need for trans-shipment of goods from one country’s truck to another’s at the border.
  • Free transport: The agreement would permit the member states to ply their vehicles in each other’s territory for transportation of cargo and passengers, including third-country transport and personal vehicles.
  • Electronic permit: As per the agreement each vehicle would require an electronic permit to enter another country’s territory, and border security arrangements between nations’ borders will also remain.
  • Ultra-security: Vehicles are fitted with an electronic seal that alerts regulators every time the container door is opened.

Implementation status of the agreement

  • The agreement will enter into force after it is ratified by all four member nations.
  • The agreement has been ratified by Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
  • The lower house of the Bhutanese parliament approved the agreement in early 2016, but it was rejected by the upper house in November 2016.
  • Bhutan has requested for a cap to be fixed on the number of vehicles entering its territory

What next?

  • India remains “hopeful” that Bhutan could change its position on the project, it was decided at a meeting in November 2021 to go ahead for now, given that there are no new signals from Thimphu on the project.
  • Progress on the seven-year-old project has been slow, despite several trial runs being held along the Bangladesh-India-Nepal road route for passenger buses and cargo trucks.
  • There are still some agreements holding up the final protocols.

Back2Basics: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN)

  • BBIN Initiative is a sub-regional architecture of countries in Eastern South Asia, a sub-region of South Asia.
  • The group meets through the official representation of member states to formulate, implement and review quadrilateral agreements across areas such as water resources management, connectivity of power, transport, and infrastructure.


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