China Imposing Undeclared Blockade, Say Nepali Traders

The Nepali traders have accused China of conducting an ‘undeclared trade blockade’ as their merchandise-laden container trucks have not been allowed to cross the border into Nepal for the past 16 months, reported The Kathmandu Post.

“Goods are still stuck at the border. We have discussed the matter multiple times with China, and have asked all key political leaders including the concerned ministries. We even requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the issue diplomatically. But no outcome has been forthcoming,” said Naresh Katuwal, President of the Nepal National Trader’s Federation.

“We have taken this gesture of China as an unofficial blockade,” said Katuwal. “If this situation continues, there is no point in doing trade with China,” he added.

Almost 2,000 containers loaded with clothes, shoes, cosmetics, electronics and industrial raw materials were stopped at the border during the October-November festive season. Only a fraction of the goods have been released, said the traders.

“Around 300 containers have remained stranded at the Kerung and Tatopani border points for the last 16 months,” said Katuwal.

Krishana Prasain, in an opinion piece in The Kathmandu Post, wrote that shipments were held up at the northern border for over 16 months now on the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic, much to importers’ chagrin.

China permitted only a few trucks to enter Nepal for the festive season, and most importers rerouted their goods through Kolkata port in India, adding tremendously to their transportation costs, several traders told The Kathmandu Post.

Moreover, the cost of transporting goods over the 26-km distance from the Chinese border point to the Nepali border point has been raised from the Renminbi 15,000-16,000 to 60,000-65,000 per container.

“While the traders were waiting anxiously for their goods to be allowed to pass, Chinese transporters hiked the freight charges,” said Katuwal.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, imports from China dropped 18.5 per cent year-on-year in the first half of the current fiscal year. Nepal bought Rs 96.33 billion worth of Chinese goods in the first six months, down from Rs 118.25 billion in the same period in the last fiscal year.

Exports to China also fell by 50 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal year. Shipments were valued at Nepali Rs 500 million, down from Nepali Rs 1.02 billion in the same period in the last fiscal year, reported Prasain.

Considering the ‘undeclared trade blockade’, Nepali traders have stopped ordering new goods from China.

Manish Lal Pradhan, president of the Export Promotion Committee at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the trade points in China were almost closed, and they were unable to export handicraft items like metal statues, reported The Kathmandu Post.

The shipments use to come from Kerung and Tatopani borders, but now, Tatopani has been shut down for maintenance, while only three-four containers have been crossing the Kerung border, reported The Kathmandu Post.

Meanwhile, the goods that used to come directly from China are now being rerouted through Kolkata port in India, added Prasain. (ANI)

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