Kathmandu, February 14
The closure of Rasuwagadi border has been extended by a week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak after a spike in the number of infections in China.
The Rasuwagadi border, which is a major trading point between Nepal and China, was shut for 15 days on January 29 to prevent people infected with coronavirus from entering Nepal from China. However, as the coronavirus epidemic has not been contained yet, the government has decided to continue the closure of Rasuwagadi border.
“As the coronavirus outbreak has not been contained yet, we do not want to take any risk by reopening the Rasuwagadi border. Movement of vehicles and people via the Rasuwagadi border will continue to be halted for another one week (till February 21),” informed Arjun Bhandari, chief district officer of Rasuwa.
However, Bhandari said that preparations are underway to reopen the Rasuwagadi border by establishing a health desk at the border point and screening all those who enter Nepal via this border.
“As Rasuwagadi is the major trade point between Nepal and China, closing it for an extended period of time will have a negative impact on the country’s overall trade, economy and development,” said Adhikari, adding that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Population have been requested to set up necessary screening infrastructure and health desk at the Rasuwagadi border point.
China is Nepal’s second largest trading partner after India. While Nepal exported goods worth Rs 863 million to China in the first five months of the current fiscal year, the country imported goods worth Rs 88.6 billion from the northern neighbour during the same period.
Nepal primarily exports handicraft goods to China and imports readymade garments, footwear products, chemical fertilisers, electrical goods, machinery parts, pipes, raw silk, telecommunication equipment and television equipment and parts from China.
As a result of the border closure, traders have said that hundreds of Nepal-bound cargo vehicles have been stalled in China. Moreover, traders have been saying that the price of Chinese goods will start to soar in the domestic market amid complete halt in supply of goods from China to Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on February 15, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.