Nepal, China agree to trade in fuel on long-term basis

Nepal and China today agreed to have a long-term trade in petroleum goods, including cooking gas, petrol and diesel, and improve trans-Himalayan connectivity to boost bilateral trade.

After Nepal proposed to import fuel from the northern neighbour, Chinese side expressed its readiness to jointly examine pricing, transportation and logistics for the same.

The two sides sealed an eight-point deal during a bilateral meeting of Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing this afternoon.

“China has advised the respective companies of the two countries to jointly examine the matters relating to price, transportation and other logistics,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

This is a step towards diversifying Nepal’s fuel dependency, after Nepal Oil Corporation and China’s state-owned company PetroChina inked a framework agreement on buying Chinese fuel in October.

Thapa’s visit to China comes at a time when Nepal is facing severe fuel shortages due to blockade in the Tarai since September.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang told reporters that Beijing was assessing how it could support Nepal in addressing its energy needs.

He said China had a strong desire to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Nepal and assured Thapa of support for Nepal’s development endeavours.

During the bilateral meeting, Chinese side invited Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to visit China at an early date and expressed likelihood of a high-level visit from China to Nepal in 2016.

According to MoFA, the two countries also agreed to upgrade and make operational existing border points and develop other crossing points to promote connectivity.

China also agreed to give priority to reopen Araniko Highway, which has been disrupted since the April 25 earthquake.

The two sides also dwelt on Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement and tasked bilateral inter-governmental mechanism to advance negotiations to conclude it.

China also announced to provide additional fuel to northern areas of Nepal bordering Tibet and assured Thapa of taking up agreed projects for post-quake reconstruction as per its earlier pledge.

Finance Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi and Chinese Vice Minister for Commerce Zhang Xiangchen signed an agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, under which China would make available 900 million RMB as grant to repair and upgrade Araniko Highway and other inter-connections.

This assistance was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he had a meeting with the then Nepali president Ram Baran Yadav in Boao, Hainan, in March.

Lekhanath Pandey

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