Nepal | August 12, 2020

Nepal-China transit treaty protocol to be finalised in March

Himalayan News Service
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  • Tianjin identified as convenient port for Nepal

Kathmandu, November 23

A joint team of Nepali and Chinese officials will soon finalise the most convenient port for Nepal’s third country trade via China. The technical committee meeting between Nepal and China to develop the protocol of Transit and Transport Agreement held in Lhasa last week decided to finalise the port, route for export and import via China and mode of transport, among others, within a few months.

The technical committee meeting of Nepali and Chinese officials scheduled in March will finalise the draft and submit it to their respective governments, according to Ravi Shankar Sainju, joint secretary at the Ministry of Commerce. “The protocol developed by the technical level needs to be approved by the higher authority of the ministry and it would sent it to the Cabinet for the approval to sign the protocol with neighbouring China.”

While nothing concrete has materialised yet, the Port of Tianjin has been identified as the convenient port for Nepal during the preliminary discussion. Tianjin, which is close to the Chinese capital and at a distance of about 500 kilometres from Kathmandu, is a possible gateway for Nepal’s third country trade. However, the fact that there is no direct rail link between Shigatse (Tibet) — the nearest rail-head from Nepal — and Port of Tianjin, could pose some challenges. In this, Sainju said that the joint team of Nepali and Chinese officials will also look into at least two to three other ports.

“Before the next meeting in Kathmandu, we will finalise the sea port, transit operation modality, import procedure, export procedure, mode of transport and customs clearance, among others, to finalise the protocol,” Sainju asserted.

Officials have said that the meeting held in Lhasa failed to make any significant headway as officials only discussed the draft protocol submitted by Nepal and decided to finalise the port, route and other essential requirements to finalise the draft protocol.

The government has 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 led by Sainju comprises joint secretaries from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, representatives from Department of Customs and Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board. And in the Chinese side, the Ministry of Transport China 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 November 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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