Nepali, Chinese officials hold talks on protocolOfficials of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and Chinese embassy in Nepal have held talks on developing protocol on the Transit Transport Agreement (TTA) signed between the two countries during Prime Minister K P Oli’s visit to the northern neighbour.
Officials of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and Chinese embassy in Nepal have held talks on developing protocol on the Transit Transport Agreement (TTA) signed between the two countries during Prime Minister K P Oli’s visit to the northern neighbour.
At the meeting held last week, the ministry asked the embassy officials to invite a technical team from China to develop the protocol, including details of transport and transit, according to Joint-Secretary Ravi Shanker Sainju.
Nepal has so far been carrying out trade with third countries only via India, but with the TTA, China has given Nepal access to its land for third-country trade for the first time. However, the TTA is just a framework and is incomplete without protocol.
A protocol is generally a treaty or international agreement that supplements a previous treaty or agreement. The protocol on TTA includes customs arrangement, modes of transport, types of cargo and operational modality.
Sainju led the Nepali team at the meeting, where economic consular of the Chinese Embassy and other officials were present.
“During the meeting, we did not discuss technical details of the protocol but asked them to arrange the visit of a technical team from China’s Transport Ministry as soon as possible,” said Sainju. “We will talk the technical details once the Chinese team visits Nepal.”
Sainju said the embassy officials have assured the technical team will visit very soon. Once the team arrives in Nepal, a joint technical team representing Nepal and China will be set up, which will develop the protocol.
“During the meeting, we asked them about the hierarchy of the officials representing China, and they assured us that they will convey the message to their agency concerned immediately,” he said. “The posts of the officials representing Nepal in the joint technical team will be decided once we know the position of the Chinese officials.”
Representatives from Nepal will include officials from Commerce, Foreign, Finance and Law ministries.
According to Commerce Ministry sources, it is under constant pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to expedite the protocol development process. The ministry has already drafted an action plan to develop and implement the protocol.
In its action plan, the ministry has mentioned two things —forming a study-team to identify the possible trade routes between Nepal and China and ports in China where goods are imported, and forming a negotiating team which will holds talks with Chinese counterparts.
According to experts, an efficient transport network and simplified paperwork and information system will be essential to make practical use of the transit facility, and such things must be included in the protocol.
The freedom of transit right available to landlocked states under United Nation Convention on Laws of the Sea, 1982 can only be fully exercised through bilateral agreements signed by landlocked states, thus Nepal will be able to assert its freedom of transit to China under the TTA. But Nepal can benefit from such an agreement only after an effective protocol is enabled.