Beijing yet to respond to proposed Transit ProtocolChina has yet to respond to Nepal’s proposal on a bilateral Transit Protocol, to be developed on the basis of an agreement signed by then-prime minister KP Sharma Oli with Beijing to diversify the country’s trade with its northern neighbour.
China has yet to respond to Nepal’s proposal on a bilateral Transit Protocol, to be developed on the basis of an agreement signed by then-prime minister KP Sharma Oli with Beijing to diversify the country’s trade with its northern neighbour.
During the official China visit of prime minister Oli in May 2016, the two countries had sealed the Transit Agreement, which was touted as a bold move in the face of a border blockade imposed by New Delhi expressing reservations over Nepal’s constitution promulgated in 2015.
Seven months since the Nepal government forwarded the proposal to the Chinese side, an official response is yet to be received, said Ravi Shankar Saiju, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, who led a team to prepare the protocol before forwarding it to the Chinese authorities.
Without signing the protocol, the Transit Agreement does not come into effect. Nepal has taken up the matter with the Chinese side regularly. “We don’t know if they [Chinese] are looking for a favourable political situation to agree on the matter,” said another official responsible for handling the matter.
Nepal has sought consent of Beijing for using at least two land ports and three to five sea ports of China for export and import. But the Chinese side has not specified which land and sea ports Nepal can use, said Saiju. In course of the next meeting, which is yet to be fixed, a joint technical team will visit both the land and sea ports before signing the protocol.
All the items imported via China will be parked in Shigatse, Tibet, and shipped to the Nepal border via Kerung. The protocol will specify matters related to security of cargo and equal preference to shipments belonging to and directed at both sides, among others.
According to Nepali officials, the Chinese side has assured dedicated sea and land ports. As provisioned under the Belt and Road Initiative of China, Nepal has proposed cooperation in using rail service to and from Chinese land ports. A Chinese embassy spokesperson in Kathmandu said he was not fully aware of the matter.