Nepali team to visit China in Nov first weekA Nepali delegation is visiting China in the first week of November to hold talks on a draft protocol on Transit Transport Agreement (TTA).
A Nepali delegation is visiting China in the first week of November to hold talks on a draft protocol on Transit Transport Agreement (TTA).
The protocol, once signed, will give Nepal access to the Chinese land for third-country trade. The draft was forwarded by the Nepali side to China some four months ago.
The technical team led by Ravi Shanker Sainju, joint secretary of the Commerce Ministry, includes representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Law Ministry, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, and the Department of Customs.
The Chinese side had initially invited the Nepali team for talks on October 17, but due to the festive season in Nepal, the Commerce Ministry asked the Chinese side to reschedule the visit.
The TTA was signed between the two countries during then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit to China in March. However, it has not come into implementation due to absence of the protocol.
A protocol is generally a treaty or an international agreement that supplements a previous treaty or agreement. The protocol on the TTA includes details on points of entry, customs arrangement, modes of transport, types of cargo, transhipment procedures and operational modality as a whole.
The draft of the protocol prepared by the Commerce Ministry has identified rail and road as two major modes of transport for transportation of goods. It has also identified five possible entry-exit points—Kerung, Korala, Kimathanka, Hilsa and Tatopani—from where cargoes will be transported to third countries via China or brought into Nepal. The ministry has even identified around four ports in China that could be used for Nepal’s third-country trade.
However, according to Sainju, certain changes may be made to the draft upon getting inputs from the Chinese side. “The selection of modes of transport, possible entry points and ports is solely based on our research,” said Sainju. “Once we hold talks with the Chinese side, they might suggest some changes based on feasibility.”
After the Nepali team returns to the country after holding talks, the ministry is planning to make another visit to China to take stock of situation on the ground. Once the technical details of the protocol are finalised, commerce ministers of both the countries will sign the final document.
Till date, Nepal’s third-country trade is being carried out via India, but the TTA with China has given Nepal the access to the Chinese land for international trade.
Yet, 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 rights available to landlocked states under the United Nations 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 only benefit from such agreement only after an effective protocol is enabled.