Thapa's upcoming China visit to focus on fuel import

Kathmandu, December 22

Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa today said his upcoming visit to China would make efforts to clear the ‘weaknesses and hurdles’ in importing fuel from the northern neighbour.

Nevertheless, he was not absolutely sure if any deal on fuel import would be sealed during his five-day official Beijing visit starting tomorrow.

Sources told The Himalayan Times that the crux of the ‘hurdles’ in buying petroleum goods from China was the possibility of high-price, which is higher than 50 per cent compared to the cost while buying fuel from India.

During his interaction with separate groups of journalists today, the Deputy PM didn’t divulge much about the agenda of his visit. However, it is understood that the Nepali side has been requesting China to waive tax and provide subsidy in transportation to reduce price.

“We will make utmost effort to reduce the price,” a foreign ministry source informed. “If this happens, a deal will be reached during the visit.”

The Deputy PM is scheduled to hold bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on December 25.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Agni Kharel is also accompanying DPM Thapa, a late development fixed only today. Earlier, no ministerial level official was said to be part of Thapa’s delegation.

Thapa also said this visit was a regular bilateral visit which he hoped would in principle be a base for a long-term framework for economic partnership between Nepal and China. He made it clear that this visit was not and must not be taken as a Nepal’s reaction against India’s recent blockade.

During the visit, the two neighbours will discuss the issue of Free Trade Agreement, Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement; and Trade and Transit Treaty, a draft of which has already been sent to China from Nepal, according to sources.