Published On: December 28, 2022 08:15 AM NPT By: RAJESH KHANAL
KATHMANDU, Dec 28: China on Tuesday permitted a notable number of Nepal’s cargo trucks carrying exportable goods to move across the border at the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung checkpoint, ending a 31-month long unannounced blockade.
The northern neighbor expressed its quick response just a day after the formation of a left alliance-led government in Nepal, by removing obstacles for bilateral trade through one of the major border points. On the day, Nepal sent six cargo trucks full of exportable goods to China.
Narayan Prasad Bhandari, chief customs officer at the Rasuwagadhi Customs Office, said Nepal exported goods worth Rs 5.07 million on Tuesday. “The amount is the highest in a day in almost the past three years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bhandari said. According to him, bamboo logs and copper utensils were among the major goods that Nepal exported to China on Tuesday.
For the past several years, China had been imposing an “undeclared blockade” on Nepal by halting the free movement of goods to and from the landlocked country via both Tatopani-Khasa and Rasuwagadhi-Kerung transit points. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese authorities had been obstructing bilateral trade citing the damages caused by the mega earthquakes of 2015.
Although Nepali traders had been raising their concerns over the issues time and again, they just received assurances at the government levels to resolve the problems “soon”. Due to the apathy from the Chinese side to resolve the issue, large numbers of cargo trucks were often found queuing up at the border point, making the Nepali traders face huge losses along with incurring high costs of trade.
Now, China seems to have addressed the plea of Nepali traders. Perhaps, the development in the bilateral trade via land route could be a mere coincidence with the formation of a new government in Nepal.
A senior foreign ministry official however said the plan to reopen Rasuwagadhi border point was being worked out for the past one month. “But the date for official opening was known just two weeks ago,” the source said.
Despite showing its leniency over the bilateral trade via Rasuwagadhi border, the obstruction is still on at the Tatopani-Khasa border. According to the customs officials, the Chinese side has not sent any official notification to facilitate trading of Nepali goods via this land route.
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