Prime Minister Dahal to leave for UN assembly on September 16 and China on September 22Energy ministry official said there has been no instruction from the prime minister on signing power trade agreement with China.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal will be leaving Kathmandu to participate in the 78th United Nations General Assembly on September 16. The event is taking place in New York, from where Dahal will on September 22 embark on a visit to China.
At the Nepal government’s request, the United Nations headquarters has rescheduled the prime minister’s address, pulling it a day ahead, after it clashed with the date of Dahal’s China visit.
The prime minister is expected to reach China’s Hangzhou to attend the opening ceremony of 19th Asian Games on September 23, while Dahal’s address in the UN general assembly was fixed for September 22. Now that it has been brought a day earlier, to September 21, Dahal would not need to rush to travel to Hangzhou from New York.
During his China visit, Dahal will request China’s help to develop a big project under the Belt and Road Initiative, he said on Tuesday during his meeting with some editors. “We will seek a Chinese grant to develop a mega project under the Belt and Road Initiative,” Dahal reportedly said. “We will also propose some other projects.”
The prime minister will participate in the SDG Summit as the chair of the Least Developed Countries and will meet foreign leaders and officials on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
In Hangzhou, Dahal is expected to be joined by senior Chinese leaders for the Asian Games opening ceremony.
“In China, I will be busy in high-level political meetings on September 23 and 24,” the prime minister told the editors, adding that agreements related to construction of cross-border transmission lines and power trade between Nepal and China will be discussed and signed during the visit.
“We are planning to reach an agreement on the construction of the two dedicated transmission lines with China: the Ratmate-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung line and the Kimathanka-Arun, which will be connected to the nearest Chinese grid,” Dahal said.
The Nepali side is also preparing to request Chinese officials to help develop a hydropower project near Kimathanka and increase Chinese investment in Nepal’s agriculture.
Speaking at a public function on Saturday in Chitwan, the prime minister had said that there will be a new power trade agreement with China and soon, also with Bangladesh. “In line with our friendship with both these countries, we will increase our energy production and trade,” Dahal had said.
Nepal has already signed a power trade agreement with India. As its part, the country is now both buying and selling electricity with the southern neighbour.
“During my visit, an agreement on construction of a hydropower project will be reached,” Dahal said without revealing which one it will be. He said he will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders.
“We are also planning to advance projects under the BRI, which we signed up to in 2017,” Dahal added. “At least, we want to develop one mega project under Chinese grant which will later be instrumental in moving forward with the BRI.”
Nepal and China had signed the framework of the BRI in 2017 but not a single project under it has progressed. Meanwhile, China has requested Nepal to be a part of three other initiatives—the Global Security Initiative, the Global Development Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative. Nepal has already started taking assistance from the GDI which is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“We have had very positive talks with China and Bangladesh with regard to the power trading agreements,” Dahal had said while addressing a public function to mark the World Youth Day. “We will sign separate understandings with the two countries soon. There is an understanding to export power to Bangladesh via India and we are planning to sign the agreement in Kathmandu at a special function.”
Though the prime minister has hinted that Nepal and China could sign a power trade agreement (PTA), something Nepal has already done with India some nine years ago, according to an official at the Ministry of Energy, they have not received any instructions from the prime minister’s side towards this end.
“If we get such an instruction, we will work on it,” the official said. “This can be a part of the prime minister’s agenda during the visit. We have heard that the prime minister has recently spoken about it but we are yet to get a formal message.”
The Chinese side had expressed its readiness to purchase electricity from Nepal during the first meeting of the Joint Working Group in Kathmandu in February. In the meeting, both sides said they are preparing the ground for construction of Ratmate-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung Transmission line, whose feasibility study has been completed by the Nepal Electricity Authority.
The proposed 400kV transmission line will be the first to be built between Nepal and China for power evacuation but its funding modality has yet to be agreed.
“The funding modality of the proposed transmission line will be agreed during the prime minister’s China visit,” the official at the energy ministry said. The project will cost Rs13 billion just on the Nepali side. The transmission line will be 70 kilometres long and will have the capacity to carry 5,000MW electricity from either side.