Govt forms negotiating team to write protocolThe Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has formed a negotiating team to represent Nepal in the Nepal-China joint technical team which will develop the protocol to the Transit Transport Agreement (TTA).
The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has formed a negotiating team to represent Nepal in the Nepal-China joint technical team which will develop the protocol to the Transit Transport Agreement (TTA).
The TTA, which was signed during Prime Minister KP Oli’s visit to Beijing last March, allows Nepal to transport its imports and exports to third countries through Chinese territory.
The negotiating team formed last week includes the joint secretaries of the Commerce, Finance, Foreign and Law ministries. A list of the members has been sent to the Foreign Ministry which will forward it to China, according to Ravi Shanker Sainju, joint secretary of the MoC and a member of the team.
Nepal has been carrying out trade with third countries only through India, and the TTA provides additional routes for shipments. However, the TTA is just a framework and is incomplete without the protocol.
In international relations, a protocol is generally a treaty or international agreement that supplements a previous treaty or agreement. The protocol to the TTA will contain details about customs arrangements, mode of transport, types of cargo and operational modality.
The MoC had been waiting for China to announce its selection so that the positions of the members of the two teams could be matched. “Since the Chinese side has been slow in announcing its delegation, we published the names of our candidates first,” said Sainju. “We hope they will send their team soon.”
The MoC held consultations with Chinese Embassy officials last month and asked them to arrange a visit of the technical team from China’s Transport Ministry as soon as possible. According to the ministry, embassy officials have said that the technical team will be coming very soon. Once it arrives in Nepal, a joint technical team representing Nepal and China will be set up to write the protocol. Sainju said the ministry was also planning to include a provision in the protocol to hold Intergovernmental Committee meetings on a regular basis. “We had talked with Chinese officials about holding IGC meetings, but they said that they would discuss it later,” he said. “We will propose to include the provision in the protocol during our meeting with the Chinese team.”
Meanwhile, Commerce Ministry sources said that they were under constant pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to expedite the writing of the protocol. The MoC has drafted an action plan to develop and implement the protocol which includes forming a study team to identify possible trade routes through China and suitable Chinese ports and forming a team to conduct dialogue with the Chinese team.
According to experts, an efficient transport network and simplified paperwork and information system will be essential to make practical use of the facility, and such things must be included in the protocol.