Nepal-India transit, trade treaties and RSA to be amended

Kathmandu, June 5

Nepal and India are set to amend Trade Treaty, Transit Treaty and Railway Service Agreement (RSA) between the two countries on a reciprocal basis.

Commerce joint secretary-level talks between the two countries scheduled for June 6 and 7 will amend the aforementioned treaties and agreements to address some of the issues raised by Nepal.

According to Dinesh Bhattarai, joint secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, the talks will focus on permitting Indian private rail operators to transport Nepal-bound cargo from Visakhapatnam and Kolkata ports to Nepal.

Moreover, the bilateral meeting will also focus on opening of other integrated check points like Bhairahawa, Biratnagar, Nepalgunj and Janakpur and giving access to Nepali and Indian railway companies to transport Nepal-bound cargo.

At present, state-owned Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) has the monopoly in transporting Nepal-bound cargo. “We need to focus on allowing other Indian private railway companies and Nepali railway companies to initiate such services to Nepal,” Bhattarai added.

“Nepali traders are having to pay more money to CON- COR, as it has monopoly in transporting cargo services to Nepal,” said a trading businessman, seeking anonymity, adding that Indian private railway companies have already pledged to provide their service at around 25 to 30 per cent cheaper rate compared to CONCOR, if given the opportunity.

Review of transit pact will focus on allowing Nepal to use Indian sea ports closer to major customs points of western and far-western Nepal — Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadi — for third-country trade. Ferrying Nepal-bound freight via inland waterways will also be included in the transit treaty.

Similarly, amendment of RSA will pave the way for operationalisation of private railways to ferry Nepal-bound cargo from Indian ports to respective Nepali inland clearance depots.

As per the ministry officials, the Indian side has already requested extension of Export Import code for Indian nationals trading with businesses in Nepal and expressed concerns over protection of intellectual property of Indian products. The Indian side has also requested Nepali officials to remove duties and related charges on import of agricultural commodities from India.