India, Nepal agree to renew trade treaty

New Delhi, August 25 :

The Indo-Nepal inter-governmental committee meeting concluded here today with an agreement to renew the Indo-Nepal trade treaty, which expires on March 5, 2007, after removing bilateral trade hitches.

In the four-day joint-secretary and secretary-level meeting, India, for the first time, put forth the proposal of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Nepal. “Both the sides have agreed to renew the Indo-Nepal trade treaty for five years after removing bilateral hitches,” the Indian Commerce Ministry said in a press release issued after the meet.

Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Bharat Bahadur Thapa said both the sides agreed to prioritise the implementation of the treaty. “An understanding was reached to work out modalities for developing Nepal as a transit point between China and India,” Thapa said, adding: “The meeting has thrown open a window of opportunities for the two countries.”

Nepal has taken positively the Indian proposal to bring all accords related to economic sectors and other feasible projects under one umbrella, Thapa said. Talks were held and accord reached on constructing six quarantine and food laboratories along the border, arrange manpower for the same, expand railway line close to Kathmandu, upgrade six customs points, repair roads along border and around customs points, Thapa said. Indian help for construction of a special economic zone in Birgunj, expansion of the petroleum pipeline from Raxaul to Amlekhgunj also figured in the meeting, he added.

“We said our exports to India should not be affected in the absence of quarantine and food laboratories,” Thapa said.