Nepal, China agree to reopen Khasa-Tatopani border points at earliest date
Updated: 2015-11-04 16:55
KATHMANDU - Customs officials from China and Nepal on Tuesday agreed on resuming operation of earthquake-damaged Khasa-Tatopani border point, the main trade route for bilateral trade, at the earliest possible date.
Two sides held bilateral meeting here on Tuesday on a range of issues and resuming the closed border points was the most important topic.
The route has remained closed since the quake hit Nepal ono April 25 due to massive damages on both sides of the border. The quake had damaged customs and other infrastructure on the both sides which forced China to relocate its government offices of Khasa to Kuti, another nearby Tibetan market.
Damodar Regmi, deputy director general of Nepal's Department of Customs, who led Nepalese team during the meeting, said the Chinese side agreed on establishing its customs office either in Khasa or another nearby point, wherever it is feasible, to resume operation of the route.
This heavily quake-affected route has not come into operation although another relatively less damaged Kerung-Rasuwagadhi route, which lies on the western part from Khasa-Tatopani route, opened nearly three weeks ago. Nepal has been bringing Chinese fuel from this route.
Nepal's largest volume of inland trade with China takes place through Khasa-Tatopani border point which covers 25 percent of Nepal's total trade with China. Most of the Chinese goods are imported to Nepal through sea route via India.
"As it is the most important trade route for Nepal at the moment, we insisted on resuming the operation of the route on which Chinese side responded positively," said Regmi.
According to him, the two sides agreed on fixing focal persons on information sharing to work on resuming operation of the road... The focal persons will hold meeting by December," he said.
Deputy Director General of Lhasa Customs Office Long Chengwei led the Chinese team. The two sides will now prepare the minute and sign it on Thursday, Nepalese officials said. This meeting of Border Customs takes place every year in either country.
Besides operating the road, the two sides also agreed to mobilize joint teams to conduct feasibility study on bringing other border points between the two countries into operation.
Nepal has established customs offices in other seven bordering districts including in Mustang district, Larke in Gorkha, Kimathanka in Sankhuwasabha, Lamabagar in Dolakha, Yari in Humla, Mugu village of the same named district, and Olangchungola in Taplejung but their function have been limited to cross-border trade among the people residing near border.
As Nepal has been facing blockade since last one and half months on its southern border, for which Nepal blames India, it made opening more trade route with China as another agenda.
"The Indian embargo showed us that we need more trade routes with China to ensure supply of necessary goods," said Regmi.
During the meeting, Nepal sought facilitation from Chinese side to enable Nepal to utilize China-provided facility of duty free market access facility to its over 8,000 goods.
"The Chinese side was positive to simplify the process to ease market access. They asked us to first identify the key problems and send to them," said Regmi.
The Chinese side also promised to work towards easing the quarantine procedure on Nepal's request to give recognition to Nepal's quarantine certificate to ease Nepal's export to China, according to Regmi.
According to him, the two sides also agreed to promote the use of banking channel in bilateral trade.