Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nepal proposes opening of 13 border points with China

To balance the South-tilted trade relations, Nepal has proposed China for opening nine more border points, beyond the four that they have agreed upon, making it to 13 border points with China.
During the meeting in Kathmandu today, Nepal pushed for opening of more border points, but the meeting ended inconclusively. The delegations from Nepal and China today discussed a proposal to open up 13 border points to ease the connectivity between the two countries, according to a senior Nepali official, who took part in the meeting. "The Nepali side proposed opening up nine more border points with China, beyond the four points the two sides have already inked an agreement for," he said, adding that the meeting could, however, not reach any agreement today.
The Chinese side said that it will make on-site visits to five new proposed bordering points, out of 13 proposed, though they did not mention the names of the proposed 5 bordering points, said joint-secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation, Saroj Pradhan, who led the Nepali team in the meeting.
Though the Chinese side had been positive on opening three border points in east Nepal, they have 'backtracked on it during the meeting, making it impossible to reach any agreement', according to the official.
Earlier, Nepal and China had agreed to open border points at Yari, Kerung, Olangchungola and Tatopani, the border that has been closed since the devastating earthquakes in 2015. . Nepal has also tabled a proposal on opening the border at nine more points, including Hilsa, Korola, Dolpa, Darchula, Taklakot, Olangchungola and Kimathanka.
The Road and Transportation Agreement reached between the two countries in 1994 allows the two neighbours to reach an understanding. The agreement facilitates opening up border points, movement of people and in some special cases, Nepal can use the Chinese highways for trade in certain parts that are not linked with road connectivity from the Nepali side.
Last month, China agreed to recognise the newly opened border trading route of Rasuwagadi-Kerung as an international checkpoint between Nepal and China. The Rasuwagadi-Kerung border crossing, which connects Nepal to China's autonomous region of Tibet, had begun operations in December 2014. It is the second largest border point for trade after Tatopani, and is recently declared international customs point between the two countries.
Earlier, Nepal had appealed China for immediate resumption of the Araniko Highway – the main trading point with China – during the visit of Chinese vice premier Wang Yang. He had agreed in principle to upgrade the trade highway. Beijing has, however, backtracked from the decision to open the key trade route that has been closed after the devastating earthquake of 2015. The Araniko Highway – leading to the Tatopani Border point – was hit badly in the devastating earthquake and subsequent landslides.
This March, China had handed over the Araniko Highway – that is of crucial importance to Nepal as it carries a large amount of goods from China – to Nepal after completing
repairs. The 114-km highway was repaired with Chinese grant assistance of Rs 760 million.
Earlier on Monday – during a meeting with China's ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong – minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Bir Bahadur Balayar had also proposed opening new 13 transit points along the border between Nepal and China as a part of Nepal's preparation to open additional transit points.
Kathmandu and Beijing have been stepping up efforts lately to improve road connectivity while speeding up plans to build a railway line connecting to Nepal's border. The then prime minister K P Sharma Oli had signed a Transit Trade Treaty with Beijing last year.

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