Nepal | August 12, 2020

Draft of transit protocol with China finalised

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, July 30

The government is all set to forward the final draft of the protocol of Transit and Transport Agreement to China to give it a final shape.

The next meeting of the Nepali and Chinese authorities scheduled in Kathmandu is expected to finalise the protocol, as the draft is going to be forwarded very soon for the comments of Chinese authorities. Both the governments have to sign and exchange the transit protocol to bring the Transit and Transport Agreement into effect.

The draft protocol has proposed transit facility from a few seaports and nearest inland port of China from Kathmandu — Port of Tianjin. The distance to the Port of Tianjin from Kathmandu is about 500 kilometres. As the Chinese government has been working on linking the Sigatse (Tibet) — the nearest rail-head from Nepal — with its capital, Nepal can use
the railway facility from the Chinese port to Sigatse to carry out third-country trade, according to the officials of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC).

“Considering China’s plan to link Europe and East Asian countries under the One Belt, One Road initiative, Nepal has proposed transit facility for its third-country trade via China,” a high-level source at the Ministry of Commerce told The Himalayan Times. “Nepal could also be developed as a transit between India and China in the future if we are able to develop robust connectivity.”

Along with the seaports, both the countries will discuss and finalise the transit operation modality, import and export procedure, mode of transport and customs clearance, among others in the meeting going to be held in Kathmandu. The draft protocol has proposed multimodal transport — road and rail — to carry out Nepal’s third-country trade via China.

Secretaries of the MoC Naindra Prasad Upadhya and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shankar Das Bairagi have gone through the draft protocol prepared by the technical committee and the draft will be forwarded within a week, according to MoC officials.

The government formed a committee to develop the protocol for the transit agreement that was signed by former prime minister KP Sharma Oli during his visit to China on March 21.

The technical team was led by Joint Secretary of MoC Ravi Shankar Sainju and comprised of joint secretaries from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and also representatives from the Department of Customs and the Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board.

On the Chinese side, its Ministry of Transport has been dealing with Nepal.

When the Transit and Transport Agreement was signed, the pact did not have any protocol, which is required to define the provisions of the accord.

The country will be able to utilise transit facility of China after the protocol is signed. Till date, the country has been allowed to use two ports of India — Kolkata/Haldia and Visakhapatnam — as gateway for third-country trade.

A version of this article appears in print on July 31, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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