KATHMANDU, Aug 4: Officials of Nepal and India are meeting in the capital on Friday to discuss measures for bringing India's Visakhapatnam port into full-fledged operation for Nepal's third country trade.
The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) is organizing the meeting between Indian port authorities and Nepali private sector as the Visakhapatnam aka Vizag port is yet to be used for Nepal's third country trade even though the Indian government has designated it as the additional gateway for Nepal.
MoC officials said that the meeting provides an open and healthy platform to discuss on issues and challenges of using the Vizag port. “The interaction aims to bring stakeholders of both the countries to discuss on prevailing issues on supplying cargo from the Vizag port. Though India has designated this port for Nepal-bound cargo, it has not been actually utilized for our third-country trade,” Ravi Shankar Saiju, spokesperson of MoC, said.
The ministry said that the meeting will be attended by shipment companies, freight forwarders and port officials from Visakhapatnam and Kolkata along with representatives from Nepali private sector bodies, among others.
“We have learnt that there exist differences between officials of Vijag and Kolkata ports. They are into unhealthy competition,” a source at MoC said, adding: “The meeting aims to clear all these issues so that Vijag port is brought into full-fledged operation.
Prakash Shingh Karki, president of Nepal Freight Forwarders' Association (NFFA), said that the meeting will discuss cost modality and other issues related to shipment through the Vizag port. “Shipment through Vizag port seems to quite expensive. We will discuss on possible measures to bring the shipment cost down,” added Karki.
Karki further added that the Vizag port provides Nepali traders an alternative to the Kolkata port. “Around 50 percent of Nepal-bound shipments could shift to Vizag once the port comes into full utilization,” he added.
Kolkata port handles around 40,000 Nepal-bound containers, Karki added.
Meanwhile, Rajan Sharma, former president of NFFA, said that both the sides should focus on cost analysis part before bringing the Vizag port into utilization for Nepal's third country trade. He also suggested to the government to open Nepali consulate at the Vizag port and the Indian authorities to work for automation of the port.