Sat, 03 Jun 2023

China stops Nepal's trucks at border point

03 May 2023, 19:03 GMT+10

Kathmandu [Nepal], May 3 (ANI): Trucks from Nepal are not being allowed to cross the border with China at Tatopani with Beijing issuing a new rule that their cargo has to be transferred to Chinese trucks for onward transport to points in Tibet, according to officials as cited by Kathmandu PostNepal's exports through the Tatopani border point resumed on Monday after eight years, and three goods-laden containers reached the border as per Nepali officials. Travellers are still not allowed to cross the border into China, the publication reported.

The Tatopani-Khasa trade route across the northern border was shut after the earthquake of April 2015 destroyed the infrastructure.

The Tatopani Customs Office used to collect more than Rs15 million in revenue daily before the border closed following the earthquake.

Before the border was closed in 2015, Nepali trucks were allowed to enter China across Miteri Bridge.

The Tatopani border point, some 115 km from Kathmandu, has historically been the main land route for trade with China. In the past, columns of porters and mule caravans carried merchandise over the Himalayan passes to various points in Tibet, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Hordes of Nepalis, mostly from Kathmandu Valley, used to throng Khasa, which was once a major shopping destination. Hotels and restaurants flourished along the highway.

But the earthquake ended all that, and traders started abandoning the Tatopani market. Locals say the market town now wears a deserted look. The border re-opened briefly on May 29, 2019.

According to Nepali authorities, the cost for traders has increased since China has not allowed Nepali containers to enter Khasa.

According to officials, around 13 goods-carrying containers used to cross the border to Khasa from Nepal, while 100-150 Chinese containers used to arrive daily in Nepal in the town's heyday.

The imported goods consisted of apples, equipment for different projects, readymade garments and footwear.

Officials say that there is insufficient infrastructure at Khasa and China has been prioritising the Kerung border point.

After the hassles at the northern border check posts during Covid-19, traders started rerouting their shipments through southern border points to Kolkata port in India.

The Tatopani border was briefly reopened on April 8, 2020, to allow medicines and health equipment from China to pass.

On March 29, following a meeting of the Nepal-China border trade mechanism in Lhasa, the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border point was opened on April 1 after 38 months.

"As the Chinese commercial counsellor and the ambassador are positive about increasing the trade volume, we are hopeful that there will be no more trade obstruction at the Tatopani point from China," said Tribhuvan Dhar Tuladhar, president of the Nepal-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Tuladhar said that the passenger and vehicle movement also needed to open as soon as possible.

There are two key trade routes, Rasuwagadhi-Kerung and Tatopani-Zhangmu (also known as Khasa), between Nepal and China.

The Rasuwagadhi-Kerung customs point, located 190 km from Kathmandu, was used as an alternative route after the closure of the Tatopani-Khasa point in 2015, and it started to get more attention since then.

China provides customs-free access to 8,000 Nepali goods. "The Nepal government should request China to create a favourable policy on quarantine and customs clearance," traders said.

"Nepal needs to build a lab to issue sanitary and phytosanitary certification and also sign an agreement with China on mutual recognition of major exportable goods," a trade expert said.

In early 2020, China closed the border point because of heavy snowfall and the Lhosar festival.

The border point in Hilsa in the north-western corner of Nepal has been re-opened for residents of Humla to travel to Taklakot in Tibet. On Monday, 18 Nepalis crossed the border and reached Taklakot. Imports from China to Nepal shrank 23 per cent to Rs162.44 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year. During the review period, Nepal's trade deficit with China amounted to Rs161.81 billionImports rose by 13.19 per cent year-on-year to Rs264.78 billion in the last fiscal year. Nepal's exports to China declined by 20.4 per cent year-on-year to Rs808.75 million in the previous fiscal year.

Nepal's trade deficit stood at Rs263.97 billion in the last fiscal year. (ANI)

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