KATHMANDU, Feb 1: The export of Nepali goods via Rasuwagadhi, an international trade gateway with China, has been suspended for a year and a half now.
Initially, the Chinese side suspended the exports citing language problems. While the language problem is being resolved, the Chinese side has not yet given permission for the export due to the COVID-19 that began from China. According to the Rasuwa Customs Office, no goods have been exported from the checkpoint since July, 2019.
Although exports were much lower than imports, the demand for Nepali goods in the Chinese market was increasing. There was a high demand for Nepali pulses and ghee in monasteries in Tibet along with goods like bamboo mats, wooden tables, and brooms. Traders say that the flow of goods from different parts of India has increased due to the long halt in the export of goods from Nepal. Purshottam Poudel, a trader said that the government should take appropriate initiative to solve this problem.
Before July, pulses, ghee, noodles, biscuits, flattened rice and other items were being exported. About 25 vehicles were exporting food items every month. Nepali goods were sent to Sigatse and Lhasa in Tibet. Traders were satisfied when they did not have to pay customs duty on Nepali food items. Customs were not applicable on goods costing up to RMB 8,000.
Food items used to be exported even before the Rasuwagadhi checkpoint was formally opened. Even when the road was not constructed, materials including flour, flattened rice and sugar were being exported. Poudel said that the number of traders has decreased as the number of Nepali goods being exported has been limited. “It is unfortunate for not being able to take it to the Chinese market even when there is demand,” he told Republica, adding that it would have a long-term effect on the trade between the two countries.
Although initiatives have been taken for a long time to take Nepali goods to China, there has been no significant progress. The Chinese side has suspended exports for a long time and has also tightened imports. At present, five Chinese vehicles are bringing goods daily. Goods like readymade garments, electronics, hydropower project materials, telecom materials and fruits are imported from China.
More than 250 goods carrying vehicles used to pass the Rasuwagadhi checkpoint daily, which came into operation in 2014. After China declared it as an international port, the number of traders, businessmen and vehicles using the border was increasing.