China reluctant to open customs points

Kathmandu, April 5

The Chinese government is reluctant to open trade routes with Nepal, saying the coronavirus infection has been gradually spreading in Nepal.

According to Nepali customs officials, the Chinese authorities are apprehensive that the novel coronavirus could spill over to China if border points were opened for trade.

Suman Dahal, director general of the Department of Customs, said customs points on the northern border could not be operated immediately and preparation was under way for operation of border points.

“China is amending rules regarding the operation of the customs points due to the COV- ID-19 pandemic,” he added.

“Since the government decided to open the Rasuwagadi and Tatopani border points on March 25, we are ready to carry out trade through these points.

But the Chinese have not opened the border,” said Dahal.

“The Chinese authorities may be scared of the virus spreading to China from Nepal, but they have not conveyed the same in writing,” he said, adding, “We are holding regular talks with the Chinese authorities and they have informed us that the central government in Beijing is adopting the highest precautionary measures against the coronavirus.”

Even Nepali importers and traders feared that if they imported Chinese products, Nepalis might not be willing to purchase them, said Dahal.

He added that the Chinese side was concerned that if customs points were opened there could be a surge in the volume of trade, subsequently increasing the threat of the virus spreading as there would be more movement of vehicles and people involved in bilateral trade between the two nations.

Dahal said major border points along China had remained closed for the last three months and the government was in a wait-and-watch mode.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 06, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.