PM’s China visit likely to seal three major deals

Kathmandu, March 2

As Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit to China is confirmed, officials have started working on the agenda and possible outcome.

PM Oli is set to embark for the northern neighbour on March 20. He will hold bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Premeir Li Keqiang and call on President Xi Jinping in Beijing on March 22.

While returning from Beijing, he will make a stopover at Hainan Province of China and attend the annual Boao Forum for Asia conference slated for March 22-25.

During talks with his Chinese counterpart Li at the Great Hall of the People, the two sides will discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, including fuel and energy trade, connectivity and border security, according to an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

Prime Minister’s foreign relations expert Gopal Khanal told The Himalayan Times that at least three issues  import of petroleum goods from China, the Free Trade Agreement and Transit Treaty  are on the priority list and likely to be sealed during this visit.

It is also learnt that the two sides will discuss the prospect of energy trade and increasing the number of crossing points across the northern Himalayan districts of Nepal and southern parts of Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Initial groundwork for PM Oli’s visit was laid when Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa had visited China in late December.

Then, the two sides had agreed to long-term trade in petroleum goods, including cooking gas, petrol and diesel, and to improve trans-Himalayan connectivity to boost bilateral trade.

Nevertheless, it is learnt that the two sides are yet to finalise pricing details and timeline for the supply of fuel to be brought from China. Besides, Kathmandu and Beijing have exchanged the draft of Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is expected to be sealed during the PM’s upcoming visit.

Likewise, it is also expected to ink a Transit Treaty with the northern neighbour, which upon Nepal’s proposal, according to Khanal, PM’s foreign relations expert.

Meanwhile, a Memorandum of Understanding regarding opening up Nepal’s consulate general in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province of China is also likely to be sealed. Nepal government has already endorsed a proposal to this effect.

A MoFA official said the upgradation of Kodari highway, construction of a major hydropower project with Chinese assistance as well as issues of bilateral power trade would be figured out during the visit.

PM Oli yesterday had instructed all government agencies to come up with concrete agendas for his visit.