Thapa likely to visit Beijing next week for fuel dealDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa is likely to visit China on a week-long official visit next week, according to an official privy to the development.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa is likely to visit China on a week-long official visit next week, according to an official privy to the development.
Thapa, who is currently in the UK, is secluded to return on Dec 20 and will head to Beijing on Dec 23 or 24, the official said.
Though the agendas of the visit are yet to ascertained and discussed at the top political level, sources said clinching a government-to-government deal with China on commercial petroleum imports and seeking Chinese assistance for Nepal’s development endeavours, among others, would be high on the agenda.
A high level government team comprising representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies and Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) is also scheduled to visit China in a few days, according to a top ministry official. The official said team would finalise the mode of transportation, fuel trade modality and other related issues for a government-level petroleum imports agreement.
Due to India’s unofficial trade embargo, Nepal has been reeling under an acute petroleum shortage, and the country has been considering the northern neighbour as an alternative source for fuel imports. The government plans to import one-third of the country’s total fuel demand from China.
On October 28, Nepal signed a framework agreement with China, breaking a four-decade petroleum supply monopoly of Indian Oil Corporation’s. However, no concrete development has taken place thereafter, besides bringing in 1,333KL of petrol offered by China in grant.
Nepal has been seeking a waiver of export and local taxes that China levies on petroleum products. If the taxes are waived, the retail price of the Chinese fuel can be maintained on par with that imported from India, according to NOC officials.
The northern neighbour, however, has been seeking government-level commitment on fuel trade, the ministry sources said.
“The Chinese government wants a government-level deal before a business deal,” said the source.