Chinese investors scout for opportunities in Lumbini

Published On: December 15, 2017 01:00 AM NPT By: SHER BAHADUR KC

BUTWAL, Dec 15: Chinese businesspersons have shown interest to invest in Lumbini and surrounding areas by forming joint ventures with Nepali investors and businesspersons.
Four delegations of Chinese entrepreneurs and businessmen have visited Lumbini area over the past year, according to Raj Kumar Sharma, president of Siddharthanagar Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI).

Chinese investors are keen to invest in hotel, solar energy products as well as factories producing cement, food products and electrical appliances, according to entrepreneurs who attended meeting with Chinese delegations.

Entrepreneurs and investor associated with 'One Belt One Road' International Trade Platform of CIC Mutual Trade and Investment Co Ltd, among others, have held discussions with local investors to study the investment climate in Lumbini and surrounding areas.

“The (Chinese businesspeople) are exploring the possibility of forming a partnership with Nepali investors and entrepreneurs to start their ventures. During bilateral meetings with us, they have sought information about Nepal's investment rules and regulations particularly those related to foreign direct investment (FDI),” Sharma added. “They shared with us that their plan is to export industrial manufactured in Nepal to neighboring Indian markets.”

A Chinese delegation, which visited Lumbini in June, has shown interest to open a five-star hotel together with Nepali partners, Sharma added.

With an international airport under construction, Lumbini - the birthplace of the Buddha -- has emerged as a potential destination for investment. The plan of connecting Lumbini with China by a railway line has made this Tarai town an attractive investment destination.
Bharat Bahadur Thapa, president of Nawalparasi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), believes that the area can take a great leap in industrial and infrastructural development with investments from the northern neighbor.

Sri Krishna Pokhrel, former president of Rupandehi Trade Association, said that investments from China will not only help in infrastructure development in Lumbini but will bring new technology. 

As the government has prohibited investors to open factories within 15 kilometers radius of Lumbini, investors are attracted toward neighboring Kapilbastu and Nawalparasi districts. A joint venture of Hongshi Cement of China and Shivam Cement of Nepal has set up a cement factory in Nawalparasi district within an investment of Rs 36.75 billion. It is expected to start production within 2018. It aims to meet 40 percent of the total demand of cement in Nepal. 

The factory, which will have installed capacity of 12,000 tons per day, will initially produce 6,000 tons a day.

Local entrepreneurs say that the project will help to attract more investments from China.
Chinese delegations have also visited Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Bhairahawa and showed interest towards establishing economic zone in SEZ model.

As government provides different tax waivers and bans strikes and protest in SEZ, Chinese investors have showed interest to invest in similar zones with a target of exporting their industrial products to India, local businesspersons, who participated in the discussion with Chinese delegates, said.

Local businesspersons also believe that concentration of industries in Lumbini and surrounding areas will increase once Nepal starts using Vishakhapatnam port of India which is nearer from Belhaiya compared to Birgunj. 

Similarly, works are underway to upgrade Belhaiya-Kora La Road to develop it as a trading route between India and China.

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