Kathmandu, November 26
The Nepal-India Transit Treaty review meeting has kicked off here from today.
Led by Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Nabaraj Dhakal and BS Bhalla, additional secretary at the Department of Commerce, India, the two-day meeting is expected to prepare the final draft of provisions to be reviewed in the Transit Treaty.
The Nepal-India Transit Treaty, which was reviewed in 2013, has to be renewed by January 2020. While renewing the treaty this time, Nepal has prepared a wish-list to be incorporated in the treaty to ease Nepal’s third-country trade through India.
“This meeting will finalise technical aspects of reviewing Transit Treaty and we’ve prepared a draft of things to be incorporated or amended while renewing the treaty next year,” informed Dhakal.
Both Nepal and India technical committees will reach an agreement on Wednesday on issues to be amended and incorporated in the Transit Treaty. Following this, the draft prepared by the technical committees will be endorsed by the secretary-level meeting between the two countries. After that, governments of both nations will endorse the draft and amendment proposal of the Transit Treaty, as per Dhakal.
Nepal is primarily seeking three major amendments in the treaty this year: Expansion of bulk cargo facility from Biratnagar, Birgunj and Bhairahawa; incorporation of inland waterways as trade route in the Nepal-India Trade Treaty; and adoption of transhipment modality. As per Dhakal, both sides will reach an agreement on these issues on Wednesday.
The meeting has discussed on three possible inland waterway routes between two countries: Kolkata-Kalughat, Kolkata-Sahebganj and Kolkata-Varanasi.
“We are discussing the modality to introduce inland waterways transportation system between the two countries through these routes,” added Dhakal.
Meanwhile, the meeting has already finalised two new routes for bulk cargo transportation.
As per existing provision, bulk cargo is allowed to enter only from Raxaul (Birgunj). During today’s meeting, it has been agreed to allow bulk cargo movement to Nepal also from Jogbani (Biratnagar) and Nautanwa (Bhairahawa). “We’ve already reached an understanding to open two new routes for bulk cargo movement.
An agreement to this effect will be inked tomorrow,” said Dhakal.
Among others, opening of two new routes for bulk cargo movement is expected to reduce the cost of ferrying goods to and from the country.
High transportation cost is a major reason behind high cost of goods in Nepal.
The two sides have also reached an understanding to incorporate Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) and adopt transhipment modality in import-export between the two countries in the Transit Treaty. As a pilot programme, the transhipment modality has been applied in trade through Vishakhapatnam and Birgunj. Similarly, the ECTS is also being applied in trade from this route.
A version of this article appears in print on November 27, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.