Import from China, India stalls as festive season draws closeAs there are no early signs of resuming trade activities with China and India with consistent highway blockades, traders said a shortage of consumer goods could prevail in the domestic market during the upcoming festivals.
As there are no early signs of resuming trade activities with China and India with consistent highway blockades, traders said a shortage of consumer goods could prevail in the domestic market during the upcoming festivals.
Imports from China via the surface routes of Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi have remained closed since the April 25 earthquake. Traders, who were optimistic that imports could be made through the Kolkata port in India, are now disappointed at highway blockades in the Tarai belt.
Indefinite strikes launched by the Madhesi Morcha and several other groups in different parts of the Tarai against the proposed federal set-up have brought trade activities to a grinding halt.
As strikes continue, a large number of Nepal-bound goods containers have been stranded at various Nepal-India border points.
Rajan Sharma, president of the Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association, said there are around 500 containers stranded at the major entry points.
“Despite the government’s claim that it has been escorting containers with the help of security agencies, many transporters are hesitant to ply their vehicles due to threats,” said Sharma, adding that container queues have stretched up to 28 kilometres at the Indian bordering point.
According to the association, 90 containers entered the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday, while 36 consignments were released on Thursday. “As of Tuesday, 291 containers have been stranded in the Kolkata port alone,” Sharma said.
Traders claimed that prices of the Dashain targeted goods could go up significantly due to the delay in shipments. The association said that huge amounts of goods shipped through railway to the inland container depot in Birgunj have piled up there. “With the delay in shipments, the importers are compelled to pay detention and demurrage charges,” said Sharma.
According to him, importers have to pay a surcharge of up to $112 per day if they miss the deadline of 21-28 days for shipment.
Traders said the shortage of imported goods has started to be felt in the domestic market. Bijay Kumar Saraogi, chairman of the Trade Committee in the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they were unable to import goods for the last two weeks.
“Although the consignments have reached the Birgunj dry port, transporters have been reluctant to ship them to the market,” he said.
Saraogi said that the shortage would be severe during the upcoming festivals if the situation continues. Edibles and outfits are among the highly demanded goods during Dashain.