The government will reconsider the motor vehicle agreement involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN), which was deferred indefinitely by the previous Parliament.

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji told media persons in Thimphu yesterday that Bhutanese trucks were facing difficulties passing through Bangladesh since the country had not ratified the BBIN agreement.

“The BBIN agreement that was ratified by three countries was shelved not because the government didn’t want it, but because there were some objections from truckers and the National Council,” he said.

The foreign minister said that he met with a delegation from Bhutanese industries based in the south. The delegation, he said, requested the government to reconsider the BBIN agreement.

“About 200 trucks are going to Bangladesh and they facing problems because we have not ratified the document. Whereas trucks originating from other countries have easy access and pass. It has both pros and cons,” Lyonpo said.

However, lyonpo added that the government had not taken any decision on whether the agreement would be ratified. He said that some truckers were against ratifying the agreement.

“We have the opportunity to review and reconsider. The National Council is new and we will discuss with them. Truckers have also now have got experience about its benefits and impacts,” he said.

The foreign minister said that influx of vehicles into the country was one of the concerns. However, he added that the agreement could be used to Bhutan’s advantage by formulating a proper protocol and that the decision would be taken only after consultations were completed.     

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that there were more components than just vehicles in the BBIN agreement. He asked the media to analyze its pros and cons that would enable the government to take the right decision. 

Bhutan, where the agreement was signed on June 15, 2015, is the only country that has not ratified it. The agreement seeks to facilitate seamless cross-border movement of passenger and cargo vehicles in the sub-region.

The former government at the end of its term had said it was up to the next government and parliament to pursue the BBIN agreement.

Proponents are of the view that BBIN’s trade potential is a critical component of economic prosperity and sustainable development of the four countries.

India, Bangladesh and Nepal have already ratified the agreement.

However, concerns about its impact on truck owners’ livelihood and on environment, security and culture were raised.

MB Subba