has agreed in principle to allow landlocked Nepal to use three inland
waterways, thus expanding its transit options to the sea. Nepal can even
operate its own vessels on the Ganges River that runs parallel to the southern
border, the Nepalese Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies said in a
India has consented to grant access to the
Kolkata-Kalughat, Raxaul; Kolkata-Sahebgunj, Biratnagar and
Kolkata-Varanasi-Raxaul routes during the trade talks held recently in New
Delhi. Officials of the two countries sat down for the third round of talks to
review the bilateral treaty of trade in New Delhi last week.
Navaraj Dhakal, joint secretary of the Ministry
of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, led the Nepali team at the joint
secretary-level meeting. Bhupinder Singh Bhalla, joint secretary of the
Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of
India, was the leader of the Indian delegation.
“A draft of the letter of exchange on the inland
waterways was finalized during the bilateral trade talks,” said Dhakal.
Nepal and India had issued a joint statement on establishing
new connectivity through inland waterways during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s
visit to New Delhi in April 2018.
Last March Joint technical team formed to
study waterway transportation
Last March, the two countries formed a joint
technical team to study the possibility of operating waterway transportation
over various routes. The technical team identified the three routes via Haldia
port as the most viable routes for inland waterway transportation between the
India has developed a waterway on the Ganges
River connecting Varanasi and the seaport of Haldia, Kolkata. Access to the
Indian waterways will facilitate efficient movement of cargo imported from
third countries to Nepal.
“After the provision materializes, it will
diversify our transit facilities as we are currently completely dependent on
land transportation,” said Dhakal, adding that the provision would get
legitimacy after it is signed at the next Inter-Governmental Committee meeting.
sent a written draft on various issues related to bilateral trade
According to the ministry, Nepal had sent a
written draft on various issues related to bilateral trade and transit during
the talks held last week. Dhakal said India had also expressed willingness to
take a lenient policy for revising the rules of origin.
India currently grants duty-free access Nepali
products with at least 30 percent value addition. “India has agreed in
principle to implement policy considering Nepali products from the customs
tariff headings to the customs tariff subheadings, ensuring flexibility in the
goods imported from Nepal,” said Dhakal.
Revising duty-free access for agricultural goods,
revising the agriculture reform fee imposed by Nepal on Indian farm products,
and removing Indian quotas on four Nepali products were among the major items
on the agenda, according to Dhakal.
Nepal has been pressing India to lift the
quantitative restriction on the import of acrylic yarn, copper utensils,
vegetable ghee and zinc oxide which has been in place since 2002. Nepal has
been presenting the issue at almost all bilateral talks, but India has not done
anything about it so far. “This time, the Indian side has assured us to take
the issue to a higher level,” said Dhakal.
Nepal and India have also finalized the draft of
a mutual recognition agreement in the trade of
agricultural goods. After the agreement goes into effect, the two countries
will recognise the quality certificates issued by each other.