POST TIME: 5 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
BBIN, BRI to open a new era for regional integration, say experts

BBIN, BRI to open a new era for regional integration, say experts

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative will play a vital role in increasing bilateral and multilateral trade by ensuring regional integration, according to experts, reports BSS.

Connectivity initiatives in the present era are considered as a significant prerequisite for economic development while the South Asia lags behind in transport connectivity, trade connectivity and people-to-people connectivity at intra-regional trade level, they told a conference.

Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) organised the two-day regional conference on ‘Importance of BRI and BBIN for South Asia’ at its conference room in the capital.

Foreign Affairs Secretary (Bilateral and Consular) Kamrul Ahsan read out a written speech of Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali at the

inaugural session of the conference.

BIISS Chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad presided over the inauguration session while its Director General Major General AKM Abdur Rahman delivered the welcome address.

In his written speech, Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh views regional connectivity as an important tool to achieve collective prosperity and peace in the region and beyond.

 “Our geographic location puts us in a very advantageous position as a bridge between the South Asia and the South-East Asia regions.”

Terming connectivity an important tool for development, he said, Bangladesh has joined and engaged with different connectivity initiatives, including SAARC, BIMSTEC, BCIM-EC, BRI, and Trans-Asian road and railway networks.

“To establish seamless connectivity in the sub-region, in June 2015, we signed a Motor Vehicle Agreement, namely BBIN MVA (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement) with a lowest common denominator, among a smaller group of more like-minded and more physically contiguous countries in the sub-region while keeping the option of participation by other countries open,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said the BBIN initiative will open a new era for physical connectivity among the members of this sub-region. “Taking advantage of flexibility, openness and comfort level for all parties, the connectivity initiative may need to be made more widened and inclusive to create opportunities for all countries.”

He said the BRI will foster economic connectivity and promote industrialisation and common development of the countries and people along the belt, building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchange and broadening trade.

Bangladesh hopes to be benefited utilising the full potentials of this initiative, Mahmood said.

Noting that Bangladesh is fully committed for connectivity, he said: “I reiterate our government’s abiding commitment to peace, progress and prosperity in the region.”

Senior officials of the different ministries, representatives from different organisations, ambassadors, researchers, and teachers and students from different universities participated in the open discussion of the conference.