Nepal, China yet to finalise protocol

Kathmandu, July 11

The Second Consultative Meeting between Nepal and China on finalising the Protocol to the Transit Transport Agreement concluded today, agreeing to hold the third round of the meeting in Kathmandu soon.

The two-day meeting, which was held in Beijing on July 10 and 11, held constructive discussions in a friendly and cordial atmosphere on finalising the text of the protocol at an early date, according to a statement issued by Nepal’s embassy in Beijing.

Since his return from his second official visit to China on June 24, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been publicly saying the protocol will be signed in July.

The Cabinet had on July 5 decided to delegate the Nepali delegation the authority to sign the protocol to the agreement signed during Oli’s visit to China in 2016 which provided Nepal access to Chinese seaports for third-country trade.

However, government sources said the Beijing meeting was able to narrow down some of the differences in the drafts exchanged by the two sides.

According to sources, Nepal wants the protocol to be very specific to avoid any need for further negotiations and agreements, but the draft protocol forwarded by the Chinese side was in broad terms.

One of the sources said the draft proposed by the Nepali side was very elaborate, including details, such as which and how many Chinese ports Nepal could use for third country trade, what type of vehicles would be used to ferry goods and what type of identity card would the drivers carry.

However, the Chinese draft was quite sparse and stated that specific details would be finalised through mutual agreement.

“That’s why negotiations are taking time,” the source said.

“Hopefully, the next meeting in Kathmandu will reach a conclusion.”