Regional transport pact comes into effect today

In a first step towards implementing the regional free trade agreement signed with its eastern neighbours, India would flag off a cargo-laden truck from Kolkata on Sunday.

The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement (BBIN Treaty) signed earlier this year comes into effect at a time when India’s border with Nepal is in crises and major trading point Raxaul remains blocked.

The treaty allows vehicles to enter each other’s territory and does away with trans-shipment of goods from one country’s vehicle to another at the border, a costly and time consuming process.

Officials said the four signatories are also in the process of developing related customs facilitation allowing cargo vehicles to cross over with minimum intervention from customs at land borders. Indian government has chosen global logistics company DHL to carry out the pilot run.

On Sunday at 11 am, the first truck will set out after Union transport secretary Vijay Chibber flags it off in the presence of state transport secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay and DHL Logistics India CEO Samar Nath. Officials said the pilot will help develop a detailed protocol on customs procedures.

Owing to the ongoing crisis at the Nepal border, union and state transport officials are tight-lipped over the details of Sunday’s ceremony. Officials said they would announce the truck’s destination before the flag off.

“With the Nepal leg of the treaty now practically ineffective, there are certain concerns, but no one wants to address these issues in the open,” an official said.

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