IGC meeting scheduled for April 26 and 27

Kathmandu, March 17

Nepal-India inter-governmental committee (IGC) meeting is scheduled to be held in Pokhara on April 26 and 27, in which the commerce secretaries of both countries will hold discussions on raft of issues related to trade and transit.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) has been framing the agendas for discussion during the bilateral meeting and take them towards logical end.

According to Ravi Shanker Sainju, joint secretary at the MoICS, there will be a joint secretary-level meeting on April 24 and 25 before the commerce

secretaries sit for the talks.

The MoICS has started consultations with the private sector, think-tanks, academicians and stakeholders on how Nepal can effectively deal with the agendas that it is going to present during the IGC meeting.

Nepal has given priority to finalisation of trans-shipment modality and signing a related agreement during the meeting.

Earlier, Nepal had proposed the modality that the government of India has already brought into practice through model of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to Inland Container Depot Tughlakabad, which is close to the Indian capital. The subsidiary of Indian Railways — Container Corporation (CONCOR) — is authorised to ferry containers from the port to ICD Tughlakabad.

“As the CONCOR has also been ferrying Nepal-bound cargoes from Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam ports and exporting consignments to these respective ports, trans-shipment agreement with India will be a milestone in reducing the cost and time of third-country trade, as there will neither be documentation-related hassles nor detention and demurrage charges levied by the shipping liners,” said Sainju.

Nepal has started testing Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ETCS) in the shipping line containers, in which the electronic chips are fitted in the Nepal-bound cargo containers and such containers are directly delivered to Nepal.

Following the full-fledged implementation of ETCS, the system will not only control the turnaround time of the shipping line containers, but will also eliminate the need of additional one-time lock (AoTL) from port customs on Nepal-bound containers. The port will not place additional lock on the cargo containers that take ECTS service and the provision requiring purchase of additional insurance in India on import of sensitive goods will not be compulsory thereafter.

Amendment in railway service agreement will allow Nepal to import and export through rail from the nearest rail head of the border crossings — namely Biratnagar (Jogbani), Bhairahawa (Nautanwa) and Nepalgunj (Rupedhia).

Rail freight cost is quite lower than road transport and this provision is also expected to help bring down the cost of importing raw materials and boost the prospect of industrialisation in Tarai belt of Nepal.

The letters of exchange (LoEs) will be signed to allow Nepali traders to ferry Nepal-bound cargoes to nearest rail heads from the seaports and vice-versa, according to officials.

Likewise, Nepal will raise the issue of non-tariff barriers to export Nepali agro products, like ginger, tea, medicinal plants to India. The long-pending issue of Nepali gas bullets will also be discussed during the meeting, as India has barred Nepali gas bullets from ferrying explosive commodity. Nepali gas bottling plants and bullet owners are deprived of importing gas in their own bullet and are relying on Indian gas bullets to ferry gas to their bottling plants from India.

Meanwhile, the joint economic council (JEC) meeting headed by the private sector bodies of both countries — Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) — was held here on Friday. The JEC meeting has also recommended some agendas on trade, transit and tourism for discussion during the IGC meeting.