Consulate general to be opened at Visakhapatnam PortThe Commerce Ministry has moved to establish a consulate general at Visakhapatnam Port in India after traders expressed unwillingness to conduct trade through the port in the absence of a government office there.
The Commerce Ministry has moved to establish a consulate general at Visakhapatnam Port in India after traders expressed unwillingness to conduct trade through the port in the absence of a government office there.
Last month, the ministry sent a team to make a study of the arrangements that would be needed to set up the office at Visakhapatnam Port. “The ministry has started reviewing the study report to estimate the cost and plan the logistics,” said the ministry’s spokesperson Rabi Shankar Sainju.
He added that the ministry had also started the official process at the government level through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nepal-bound cargo containers were released from Visakhapatnam Port for the first time in June 2016. Nepali traders have been using the new port on a nominal basis for almost 10 months now. The absence of a contact office at the port has been blamed for the little use Nepali traders have been making use of it. A few days ago, Indian authorities at Visakhapatnam Port had also requested the Nepali delegation led by Nepali Consul General in Kolkata Ek Narayan Aryal to open a government office as soon as possible.
Nepali Consul in Kolkata Mohan Niraula, who was also a member of the delegation, said Indian authorities were keen to start full-fledged operation of the new port by the end of April. “Indian authorities have requested the Nepali side to open a branch office for the purpose,” Niraula said.
According to Niraula, traders currently have to obtain a ‘no objection letter’ from the Consulate General in New Delhi. Similarly, problems related to cargo clearance and foreign exchange can be resolved in little time if there is a government representative at the new port.
“If a representative office is opened in Visakhapatnam, the hassles being faced by traders will be eliminated.”
Nepal’s trade with third countries is routed mainly through Haldia Port, Kolkata. Growing congestion at Haldia had prompted calls for an alternative port.
Haldia Port cannot handle large ships because of its shallow water, and cargo has to be transferred to smaller vessels in Singapore or Colombo, Sri Lanka and shipped to Kolkata. This increases the cost of trading. Haldia Port is 704 km from Nepal. The distance to Visakhapatnam Port from Nepal is 1,436 km. However, Visakhapatnam has a deep water port and it can handle mother cargo vessels which reduces ocean freight costs.
Sainju said traders had been complaining about the greater distance to Visakhapatnam Port without looking at the benefits that will help reduce their costs. “However, the new route is expected to become operational soon as a number of traders have started building relations with shipping agents at the new destination.”