BBIN moots sub-regional railway service agreement

Kathmandu, January 21

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, known as BBIN, have decided to sign a railway service agreement in order to boost connectivity and trade among the four countries.

A two-day meeting of Joint Working Groups of BBIN countries that concluded in Dhaka, Bangladesh yesterday decided to sign such an agreement to link BBIN countries with railway network.

A Motor Vehicle Agreement was signed among the four countries early last year to boost trade and flow of people and goods. The JWG also reviewed progress under the MVA and recommended all stakeholders to operationalise the agreement soon.

Likewise, a separate SAARC Railway Service Agreement was mooted to connect the entire SAARC region with railway network.

However, SAARC member-states have yet to agree on its draft proposal, which was initially tabled for endorsement during the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.

The BBIN railway service agreement would be framed in accordance with the draft proposal of the SAARC Railway Service Agreement, informed an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A final agreement on BBIN railway service could be signed during the next JWGs meeting scheduled for mid-2016 in India.

The JWGs also discussed issues like trans-border power trade and energy-grid connectivity, according to a statement issued by the MoFA today.

The meeting also dwelt on water resource management, hydropower, connectivity and transit issues and decided to set up an Experts Group for exchanging best practices in water resource management and specifics of identified projects, power trade, inter grid connectivity, flood forecasting and other areas of possible cooperation.

“The JWG carried forward earlier discussions on scope for power trade and inter-grid connectivity cooperation and water resource management between the four countries,” read the statement.

“Specific hydropower projects under BBIN framework that could be concretised on equitable basis were also discussed.”

Joint Secretary Prakash Kumar Suvedi, who heads the South Asia Division at the MoFA, took part in the meeting representing Nepal.