China agrees to resume bilateral trade with Nepal via Tatopani-Khasa customs after a hiatus of nine years

Published On: March 31, 2023 09:00 AM NPT By: RAJESH KHANAL

The northern neighbor also promises the landlocked Nepal for barrier free trade via Rasuwagadhi-Kerung and Yari-Purang

KATHMANDU, March 31: The Chinese government has agreed to resume the two-way trade via Tatopani-Khasa route from May 1 this year.

In a bilateral meeting of Nepal-China Coordination Mechanism on Border Trade and Cooperation held in Lhasa on Wednesday, the Chinese authorities consented to resume operation of one-time most happening land route of bilateral trade between the two countries. The secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Madhu Kumar Marasini and his counterpart of Lhasa, Tibet, inked an agreement over the issue on Wednesday.

Navaraj Dhakal, consul general of Nepal for Lhasa, Tibet of China, said both the sides have agreed on allowing smooth bilateral trade through the border point.

Showing various pretexts, China time and again has been obstructing bilateral trade via the land routes. Since the 2015 earthquake, Nepal’s export through the Tatopani-Khasa border has come to a standstill. Prior to the earthquake, the trade volume through this land route used to be more than Rs 150 billion annually. 

Subsequently, China expressed its promptness to trade via Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border, the conventional land route, to carry out bilateral trade. However, the Chinese authorities, since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, started imposing heavy obstructions at this border point too.

  For the past several years, China has imposed an “undeclared blockade” on Nepal by halting the free movement of goods into the landlocked country via both of these transit points. As a result, the exports from Nepal have dropped below Rs 1 billion annually.

Nepali side has been constantly urging the Chinese government to allow free movement of goods via these two main land routes. In response, the Chinese authorities have been expressing their willingness to do so just to appease the Nepali side.

Dhakal said the meeting on Wednesday also agreed to resume two-way passenger movements from Rasuwagadhi-Kerung from Saturday. Likewise, the Chinese side also consented to enforce similar conditions via the Yari-Purang trade point.

Nepal shares its border with the Tibet autonomous region of China in a stretch of 1,414 kilometers along the Himalayan range.  China has officially announced opening six border points for bilateral trade via the land routes. These include Kodari-Nyalam (Tatopani-Khasa), Rasuwa-Kerung, Yari (Humla)-Purang, Olangchunggola-Riwu, Kimathanka- Riwu and Nechung (Mustang)-Lizi checkpoints.

However, till date, only two trade routes, namely Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani, have been opened for commercial trade. Still, the Chinese authorities have been shutting these points indefinitely on various pretexts time and again.


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