Bilateral talks to continue undisrupted trading via land routes are scheduled for Friday
KATHMANDU, Sept 24: The Rasuwagadhi-Kerung transit point, one of the two major land routes of Nepal-China trade, has been opened since Wednesday, after the Chinese authorities expressed their consent to conditionally reopen the border point for movement of traded goods.
According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, a few consignments carrying Chinese products entered Nepal on Wednesday evening. “The Chinese side has allowed the transport of a limited number of cargo containers only by abiding with strict safety measures,” Commerce Secretary Baikuntha Aryal told Republica. “Cargo trucks have been entering Nepali land also on Thursday.”
Both Nepal-China border points of Rasuwagadhi-Kerung and Tatopani-Khasa have remained closed since late January to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan of Hubei Province of China in late 2019. Over the period, these trade points were opened only for a few days allowing the movement of a limited number of cargo trucks carrying medical kits in particular.
Aryal said the Chinese government, despite repeated requests from the Nepali authorities, was reluctant to allow cross-border movement of the traded goods showing the threat of massive spread of coronavirus in Nepal of late. “On request of the Government of Nepal to solve the issue permanently, Chinese authorities expressed their consent to sit for bilateral talks,” he said.
Aryal added that the representatives of both the governments are sitting for a virtual meet on Friday. According to him, the talks will also discuss resuming cross-border movement of cargo through the Tatopani-Khasa border point.
With the restriction from China, more than a thousand Nepal-bound cargo trucks had remained stuck in Kerung for almost nine months. According to the traders, the cargo trucks have been carrying mainly construction equipment, electronic devices and Dashain-targeted goods.
Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities on Thursday stated that China has reopened Zhangmu and Jilong ports for one-way cross-border transit of goods from China to Nepal.
Issuing a press statement, the Chinese Embassy in Nepal said that both the countries have taken necessary restrictive measures at the border ports in order to prevent and control the spread of the pandemic. The Chinese embassy has further clarified that due to the monsoon and the spread of the pandemic, the transit of goods of the ports has been disrupted from time to time and has not been fully restored.
“Considering Nepal’s needs for medical materials and daily necessities, the Chinese side attaches great importance to Nepal’s concern on improving the capacity of goods transit,” reads the press release quoting the remarks by Wang Xiaolong, spokesperson for the embassy.