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After Maldives Nepal plays the China card by deciding to move cargo through Chinese ports

The Nepal has decided to play the China card against New Delhi when the land locked nation secured the Chinese clearance to use four of their ports to carry goods to Kathmandu. The decision marks the end of monopoly position for India with regard to border trade with Nepal.

Given the bad shape of the roads in Nepal, the distances ranging around three thousand kilometers of road journey from Chinese ports for the cargo to reach Kathmandu, the trade is not enthusiastic about the decision.

Nepal is sandwiched between China and India, for the supply of essential goods including fuel and the use of its ports for trade with other countries.  Kathmandu has sought access to Chinese ports to reduce dependence on India since a prolonged blockade of its border crossings with India in 2015 and 2016 left the country short of fuel and medicine for several months.

Officials from Nepal and China finalized the protocol of Transit and Transport Agreement (TTA) during a meeting in Kathmandu on September seventh giving Nepal access to the Chinese ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang, a statement from Nepal's commerce ministry said. It said China had also agreed to allow Nepal use its dry (land) ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse as well as roads to these facilities according to reports in Nepalese media..

The arrangement will come into effect when the protocol is signed, an official said without giving a date. "This is one of the milestones because we are getting access to four Chinese ports in addition to two ports in India, A spokesman of the Nepalese government said. He said Nepali cargo from Japan, South Korea and other north Asian countries could be routed through China which would cut shipping time and costs. Overland trade is now routed mainly through the port of Kolkata which takes up to three months, officials said. Delhi has also opened the port at Vishakhapatnam for Nepalese trade.

Traders say the plan to connect the country with China could face issues due to a lack of proper roads and customs infrastructure on the Nepalese side of the border. The nearest Chinese port is also located more than 2,600km from its border. Nepal must develop proper infrastructure for smooth access to Chinese ports. Without this simply opening of ports will not be useful," said an exporter. China is making fast inroads into Nepal with aid and investment, challenging India's long-held position as the dominant outside power.


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