500 containers stuck at Vizag since December

Kathmandu, February 14

Nepali importers have been facing delays in delivery of Nepal-bound cargoes imported via Vishakhapatnam (Vizag) port due to lack of proper inter-agency coordination. Hence, around 500 containers have been stuck at Vizag port since December.

Madan Mittal, member of Nepal Foreign Trade Association (NFTA), said that lack of coordination between the Department of Commerce and Nepali Embassy in New Delhi has been creating hassles in communicating with the Vizag port authority.

The port authority has not given clearance to Nepal-bound cargo containers as the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi has not forwarded the documents of the traders to the port and communicated with the port authority of Vizag.

“As per the provision of the Nepal-India Trade Treaty, Nepali agencies have to correspond with the Indian agency through the Nepali mission in India,” said Mittal, adding, “We do not have a consul general in Vizag like in Kolkata and Nepali Embassy in Delhi has to correspond with the port authority.”

Vizag is the new port opened for Nepal since last year. Traders are encouraged to conduct third-country trade through Vizag by the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) owing to the predictable delivery of goods to and from the port. The MoC has said that Vizag is a more efficient port than Kolkata/Haldia and that the cost and time of import and export could be minimised through Vizag.

The Export-Import code, also known as ExIm code, is also to be shared with the cross-border Indian customs and it provides information of the traders. The Department of Customs executes the ExIm code and the Department of Commerce registers the trading firms. The code provided by the customs is also to be shared with various agencies related to the trade and tax administration under the national single-window system being developed by the Department of Customs.

However, these two agencies are yet to be interconnected to share the database of traders and registered firms.

In this backdrop, traders have urged for early implementation of electronic data interchange (EDI) with the gateway ports to facilitate the country’s trade regime. Lack of proper communication between the Department of Commerce and Nepali Embassy in Delhi has been accruing eye-watering costs for traders.

“Small and medium businesses have been hit hard due to lack of predictability,” said Rajan Sharma, former president of Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association. “This is gross negligence on the part of the Embassy because the Nepal mission in Indian capital should know that there is no presence of a consul general in Vizag like in Kolkata.”

Stating that transparency, accountability and flow of documents are a must for trade facilitation, Sharma said that the government should make all the related agencies aware of the importance of trade facilitation and the cost of delays on the Nepali economy.