Officials at loss over Chinese fuel dealThe commercial import of petroleum products from China is getting delayed due to several factors, as officials are still unsure when and how the deal will be sealed.
The commercial import of petroleum products from China is getting delayed due to several factors, as officials are still unsure when and how the deal will be sealed.
A two-member Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) team held discussions with PetroChina and other Chinese firms to reach a commercial deal during its recent visit to Beijing. But as of Sunday, officials have neither received any confirmation from the Chinese side nor the government has sent a team to negotiate with the Chinese side.
Officials at the Foreign Ministry are discontent with the way the political leadership has handled the matter, claiming that the delay was due the protocol issue despite having reached a framework agreement on importing fuel from China. “We are trying to reach a ground-breaking deal with China, yet we sent such a junior team for negotiation. Such a team should have either been headed by a minister or a secretary,” said a ministry official.
The NOC team, which left for Beijing two weeks ago, has been negotiating with the Chinese side over waiving tax that will make fuel imported from China more expensive than India. Foreign Ministry officials have been suggesting the country’s political leadership to send a high-level negotiating team to hold talks with the Chinese side.
“China has to import petroleum products to meet its energy needs. Nepal will be the first country to import it from China should the deal materialises. So, it is taking longer than usual,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official. “Other issues such as local and provincial taxes are also causing delay.”
UPCN (M) Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who played a key role in fuel deal with China, said that were a few hurdles to sign a commercial deal with China. “We have yet to fix the modalities to sign the deal,” he said.