China and Nepal on Friday finalised a transit protocol that will give Kathmandu access to four Chinese ports, Reuters reported. This move will effectively end India’s monopoly on trade routes used by Nepal.
Nepal, a landlocked country, depends heavily on India for essential goods, including fuel, and the use of its ports for trade with other countries. Kathmandu sought access to Chinese ports to reduce dependence on India after a border blockade in 2015-’16 left the country short of fuel and medicines.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli signed the transit agreement with China during his first stint in the post in March 2016.
Officials from Nepal and China finalised a protocol during a meeting in Kathmandu on Friday, giving Nepal access to ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang, a statement from Nepal’s Commerce Ministry said. China had also agreed to allow Nepal use its dry ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse and the roads to these facilities.
Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary Rabi Shankar Sainju said Nepali cargo from Japan, South Korea and other north Asian countries could be routed through China, which will cut shipping time and costs.
Overland trade is now routed mainly through Kolkata, which takes up to three months. New Delhi has also allowed Nepali trade through Visakhapatnam port, reported The Indian Express.
Beijing and Kathmandu are also in talks to build a railway link into Nepal, constructing an electric transmission line and are conducting a feasibility study for a free trade agreement.