Nepal without peace ‘unviable’ as Indo-China bridge

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 18:

Peace and political stability are prerequisites if Nepal is to reap economic benefits as a proposed transit point between the fastest growing economies of India and China, said experts today. “Nepal must have a climate of peace and political stability to benefit thus,” said former SAARC secretary general Dr Yadav Kant Silwal at the Reporters’ Club, here. Silwal said Nepal should immediately start tripartite dialogue to constitute a high-powered regulatory

body for developing the country as a transit point for trade between the two countries. He warned that no foreign investment would be available for Nepal unless peace is restored. He said Indian and Chinese officials have been holding talks about opening Nepal as a transit point since the last 10 years. He also pointed out the need for formulating an “economic roadmap” to take advantage of the transit point plan that would provide Nepal immense economic opportunities.

Former ambassador to China, Dr Rajeshwor Acharya, urged that Nepal should reach an agreement between the two countries on the transit concept, harmonising their economic policies. He said India and China were talking about using Nepal as a transit point keeping in mind security sensitivities of both the sides. “This (transit point plan) may help transform Nepal’s economy. But Nepal also needs to identify her own economic potential vis-a-vis India and China’s economic growth.” Acharya also said Nepal should reach a transit agreement with China before the transit point is finalised, he said, adding that it should also develop special economic zones and export processing zones. Development of roads, water resources and tourism infrastructure were some key areas where huge foreign investment could be attracted. “But that investment depends on how fast Nepal returns to political stability,” he said.

Industrialist and president of Nepal Trans-Himalayan Trade Association, Rupjyoti, said Nepal should look into why India and China have proposed a transit point here. He said Nepal would immensely benefit from the transit point plan if it comes into effect before the Nathula-Yarlung transit point through Sikkim becomes operational between India and China. WTO expert Dr Poshan Raj Pandey opined that Nepal could also benefit in the long-run from the transit point, just as Mexico did after reaching a Free Trade Agreement with the US and Canada. Lokmanya Golchha, another industrialist, said Nepal can benefit from the transit point provided containers from both countries are allowed only up till the border points.