TTA protocol held up due to govtThe Commerce Ministry has confirmed that Nepal and China will not be signing a protocol to the Transit Transport Agreement (TTA) during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s upcoming visit to Beijing.
The Commerce Ministry has confirmed that Nepal and China will not be signing a protocol to the Transit Transport Agreement (TTA) during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s upcoming visit to Beijing.
The protocol will allow Nepal to channel its third country trade through Chinese territory. However, lack of political will at the highest level and slow pace of work by the ministry has forced the signing to be postponed. The TTA was signed in March during the then prime minister KP Oli’s visit to China. A protocol containing the nitty-gritty details needs to be signed before the treaty can be implemented.
A protocol is generally a treaty or international agreement that supplements a previous treaty or agreement. The protocol to the TTA includes point of entry, customs arrangement, mode of transport, types of cargo, transshipment procedure and operational modality.
After returning from China, Oli had directed the Commerce Ministry to sign the protocol within six months, but one year has passed and it has not happened. The signing was expected to take place during Prime Minister Dahal’s visit, but the Commerce Ministry has said it will not be not be possible.
According to Commerce Joint Secretary Ravi Shankar Sainju, the ministry has sent a draft of the protocol to China through the Foreign Ministry and is awaiting its response. “The Chinese side will come to Nepal for a discussion after studying the draft,” said Sainju. “Although both sides have agreed to sign the protocol as soon as possible, we will know the actual date only after the Chinese delegation arrives in Nepal.”
The two sides held the first round of discussions last November when a Nepali technical team led by Sainju visited China and submitted presented a template of the agreement to their Chinese counterparts. “There was a delay in preparing a draft protocol as the Chinese side took its time approving the template,” said Sainju.
Although, Commerce Ministry officials have blamed procedural delays, informed sources at the Foreign Ministry said lack of political will was the major reason behind the protocol being held up.“If the current government had shown strong political will, the protocol would have been signed already,” said the source. “China is also not so keen on signing the protocol with a government which it believes was formed under Indian influence.”
Meanwhile, international trade experts said the delay in signing the protocol had held up the development of alternative trade routes.
“Although there will be no immediate benefit after signing the protocol, we will have an alternative to Indian routes after the development of infrastructure at the Nepal-China border,” said Posh Raj Pandey, an economist. “Likewise, it will also decrease our reliance on India for third country trade and increase our bargaining power.”