Sunday, 1 November, 2020
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EDITORIAL

Enforce Nepal-China Transit Agreement



Nepal and China have geared up for enforcing the Transit and Transportation Agreement, 2016, and its protocol, 2019, to strengthen the bilateral trade relations between the two friendly nations. With increased road and air connectivity between the two neighbours, their trade and tourism ties have consolidated further over the years. Needless to say, the two countries have continued to enjoy cordial relationship since time immemorial. Chinese President Xi Jinping's state to Nepal in October last year has paved the way for taking the bilateral relations to newer heights. During the historic visit, the two nations struck numerous deals on bilateral cooperation, including construction of the cross-border road and railway infrastructure. Many of such projects are yet to gain due momentum because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, efforts are underway to materialise them. The two nations have taken a fresh initiative to implement the Transit and Transportation Agreement, 2016, and its protocol, 2019. The agreement was supposed to come into effect from February 1 this year. But it has been delayed due to the transmission of the COVID-19.
According to a news report carried by this daily Wednesday, the first virtual meeting of the joint working group on trade between the two nations agreed to forward the process of implementing the vital bilateral Transit and Transportation Agreement and its protocol. The two sides have decided to initiate the process of operationalising the agreement and the protocol with a view to giving a boost to the bilateral trade and commerce. It is noteworthy that the officials agreed to build and facilitate trade infrastructure through mutual assistance and interdependence. With this understanding, the two sides are to take all possible measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 through Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi transit points. They have decided to exchange notes through diplomatic channels for smooth implementation of the deals.
Meanwhile, Nepal and China are going to reopen the Tatopani border, a major trade point, from October 5. The transit point, which is considered to be very important from trade and strategic points of view, has remained closed for almost three months. Nepal has been using this border point just to import health equipment from the northern neighbour. The route had been closed almost four years after the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal. The border, however, had reopened in May 2019. With the reopening of this transit point, the bilateral trade between the two nations is expected to flourish in the days ahead.
The meeting also delved into the construction of a border check station and dry port at Timure of Rasuwa district, establishment of a laboratory for testing plant and animal products and labeling of food items exported to China. Besides, upgrading and maintenance of the Syaphrubensi-Rasuwagadhi road section was also discussed. The Nepali delegation called for including 188 plants, meat and other food items in the list of goods to be exported to China. The Chinese side was also urged to build an integrated check point at the Korala border in Mustang district. The two sides also discussed increasing the Chinese investment in Nepal. Reopening the Rasuwagadhi border point, establishing cross-border economic zone and enhancing cooperation in building trade infrastructure were also on the agenda at the meeting.  

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