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Nepal government teams to take stock of Chinese port to end dependence on India for trade

KATHMANDU: Nepal government is set to mobilize teams for the field inspection and study about the time, cost and required infrastructure for using the additional border points in the north and seven Chinese ports.
“Two teams will be mobilized for the field inspection and survey to find out what should we need to do while operating trade through the new border points with China,” said Commerce Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari at a press meet organised at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply on Tuesday.
He said that the cost of trade will be analysed in terms of doing business with the third country, and consultations with the private sector organisations would also be organised before making the final decisions.
According to him, Nepal should also be clear about the transport mechanisms during the winter as most part of the high mountains is covered with snow.
A secretary-led Intergovernmental Committee and joint-secretary-led Technical Committee are working to facilitate two-side dialogues.
With the signing of the Protocol on Transit Agreement on 29 April, Nepal has the facility to use seven Chinese ports and some dry ports and six border points can be used to trade with China.
“Nepal can use its own transport service up to Sigatse port and Chinese transports can directly come to dry port in Nepal side,” said Adhikari.
He said that the government was working to upgrade the road infrastructure connecting Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi border in order to facilitate trade between the two countries.
“The dry port at Tatopani will come in operation soon. Minister for Transport had promised to upgrade the Arniko Highway. Similarly, road to Syaphrubesi will be blacktopped in two years. We want to develop it as a major trade route,” he said.
China is Nepal’s second largest trade partner. Nepal exports goods worth Rs. 2.4 billion and imports of Rs. 160 billion.
In the last five years, imports have doubled but exports gone down. In Fiscal Year 2013/14, Nepal exported goods worth Rs. 2.9 billion to China and imported goods amounting to Rs. 78 billion.
Nepal’s Southern neighbor India has had a monopoly on Nepal’s fuel supplies and trade for decades, but tensions over a five-month blockade in 2015 prompted Nepal communist government to turn to Beijing.
Nepal and China had signed a protocol to operationalise their 2016 Transit and Transport Agreement (TTA) which will enable the landlocked Himalayan country to access Chinese sea and land ports for its foreign trade, ending Nepal’s dependence on India for goods and trade.
The agreement on protocol along with six other deals were signed during Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s meeting with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during the Belt and Road Forum gathering last month.

(Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during the Belt and Road Forum gathering. Photo: AFP)

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