APD recently caught up with Nepal’s Finance Secretary Suman Prasad Sharma to talk on issues related to Nepal-China trade cooperation and recent official visits between these two countries. Excerpts:
More Chinese support and service on its way to Nepal
What was the major outcome from Nepal-China Joint Economic and Trade committee meeting held in Beijing last month?
The meeting that was planned to be held annually was not being held up to 2007. One of the main themes of the recent meeting was to reinstate the dialogue so that both sides can meet annually, regularly and frequently to try and solve different issues arising between Nepal and China.
The meeting sealed a four-point deal. Could you elaborate?
The agreement was mainly about how China can support Nepal develop especially in northern border areas. For instance, providing support to upgrade a public school based in Sindhupalchowk District. Another point of the agreement is to let Nepal become a part of the Silk Road Economic Belt. Expansion of Araniko Highway was one of the issues underscored in the meeting. We are yet to sign formal agreement in this connection.
Nepal side has taken some proposals. There are no Chinese banks in Nepal till now. Nepalese people are doing business with China in a very conventional way. We requested China to provide bank services by building a bank in Nepal or opening branches of Chinese banks. Such service will help enhance Nepal-China trade.
Another matter discussed in the meeting was on how to make Nepali products enter into China more easily to compete in Chinese market. We requested Chinese side to help and cooperate with us. For example, the working hours of custom offices at Nepal’s side Tatopani and China’s side Zhuangmu Town are different, so we need to reinforce coordination to facilitate the border trade. Nepal also hopes to establish and upgrade some necessary infrastructures at custom points in Tatopani and Rasuwagadi with China’s help.
The two sides also discussed about setting up Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Panchkhal of Sindhupalchowk that would facilitate Nepalese export to China. China also agreed to help construct infrastructure, quarantine facility, warehouse, customs office, inspection and security, bank, restaurant and medical facility in border areas. We also requested the Chinese side to expand the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Nepal-China border, Kerung so that more goods can be exported to China.
China has become largest Foreign Direct Investment contributor to Nepal surpassing India during the first six months of the fiscal year (mid-July to mid-December). What are new areas of cooperation between the two countries?
We have seen many new areas for cooperation between Nepal and China. For instance, we have identified harnessing hydropower in joint collaboration. Establishment of herbal processing industries can be another sector. Herbal products are getting good feedback from Chinese market. Similarly, cooperation on organic farming is another sector.
How do you value Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Nepal?
Both sides have agreed to strengthen cooperation on nine areas. Trade, investment, agriculture, infrastructure, science and technology, connectivity, tourism, cultural exchanges, and security and law enforcement are very important areas. We are ready to collaborate with China and put forth a framework for its implementation. Nepal will efficiently utilize Chinese assistance.
China has increased its grant assistance to Nepal by five times---from 200m RMB to 800m RMB--from the fiscal year of 2015 during the foreign minister’s visit. Nepal will efficiently utilize Chinese assistance.
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