The agreement was signed by Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali and Minister for Transport of China Li Xiaopeng representing their respective countries after delegation level talks between President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The signing of the protocol is supposed to end Nepal’s sole dependence on India for the use of India’s ports for trade with other countries as well as supply of essential goods including fuel.
The agreement will allow the landlocked country, Nepal, to use the ports of its northern neighbour to carry out third country trades.
Nepal’s decision to ask China to allow the former to use the Chinese ports came after a border blockade in 2015-16 at the Indian ports due to which Nepal had to face shortage of fuel and medicine.
The joint secretary from Nepal’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Rabi Shankar Sainju, however, said that that the Chinese ports are not a replacement for Indian ports. “They are additional ports which we can use,” said Sainju in a statement.
Sainju also pointed out that in order to execute the protocol, Nepal would need proper upgradation of infrastructure on their part.
The joint secretary also stated that since the protocol allows Nepal to use all three kind of ports – inland, road and rail, it would boost investors’ confidence in relation to Nepal.
It has, however, been reported that due to poor infrastructure on Nepal’s side, Nepali traders and businessmen will not be in a position to start trade through these Chinese ports immediately.
According to officials, two separate mechanisms will be set up to review and enforce the protocol and resolve any technical difficulties arising during implementation of the same.