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China to reopen its border crossings with Nepal to facilitate trade

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China, which had unilaterally closed the border crossing under the pretext of COVID, is going to allow cargo containers stopped in transit to come to Nepal. China has closed the Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi crossings – two major trade points between the two countries – since last month.

In a meeting with President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday, Chinese People’s Congress Chairman Li Zhanshu assured that the border will reopen soon. Customs authorities have been informally informed that China is going to open the border from Thursday so that the goods stopped in transit can be sent.

Chief of Rasuwagadhi Customs Office, Ram Prasad Mainali said that the Chinese side will send the goods stopped in transit. “We have received information that only the goods that have been stopped will be sent,” he said. “The vehicles that have been stopped will leave for China from Thursday.”

A high-ranking official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that China will not solve the problem by allowing only the cargo containers that are stopped in transit to move into Nepal. Nepali businessmen were in big trouble when China closed the major trade routes between the two countries, Tatopani-Khasa and Rasuwagadhi-Kerung.

In 2016, a transit agreement was signed between Nepal and China. Although Nepal has access to the sea through the Chinese road, it has not been able to fully utilize it. Due to the understanding that the “Free Tibet” activity will increase when the border crossing is opened, China has been making various excuses to tighten the border. China’s trade blockade, which started after the earthquake, has been happening under various pretexts until now.

Even though Nepal repaired the road on its side after the earthquake, China was not interested in opening the Tatopani crossing. After that, the gate that was opened was closed for a long time under the pretext of covid. It has been closed again since last month.

In the last financial year, goods worth Rs 264 billion were imported from China. Hundreds of containers carrying goods of Nepali businessmen have been stopped on their way to Nepal. Traders say that trucks and containers carrying materials such as clothes, mobile phones, raw materials for shoes, walnuts, fertilizers, apples, ginger, and garlic are stopped in Chinese territory. In the past, up to 250 containers used to arrive from the two ports. It takes about 40/42 days for the goods to reach Nepal in a container from Kolkata, India. Importing goods through Tatopani and Kerung takes half the time, so traders want to bring the goods via these trade points.

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