Trade Flourishing at Northern Border Points

  5 min 7 sec to read
Trade Flourishing at Northern Border Points

KATHMANDU: The Tatopani border with China is witnessing increased activities. Hoteliers in Sindhupalchok, who were shaken by the earthquake and COVID-19, feel relieved by the hustle and bustle of importers busy in importing Chinese goods and transporting them to Kathmandu.

After the devastating earthquake in 2015, this border was completely closed for 4 and a half years. It reopened in May 2019 but was closed again in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shiv Prasad Nepal, who runs a hotel business in Tatopani, says, "We had to wait until April last year to fully operate the border again. As a result, many businesses, including hotels in the border area, were in crisis. Since last year, business has gradually improved with increased traffic at the border."

According to him, business is flourishing every day. He added, "We suffered huge losses due to the earthquake and COVID-19. Now that the border is open, our business has increased twofold."

Ashok Kumar Shrestha, former president of the Nepal Himalayan Cross Border Commerce Association, says that it is easy to bring goods from China lately. "There is no problem at the checkpoint on either side," he said. "After ordering the goods, we are able to bring them on time."

According to the Tatopani Customs Office and the local government, before the earthquake, more than 1,500 vehicles, including containers, were operating through the Tatopani checkpoint. More than 15,000 tourists used to pass through the border every year. For a long time, the dry port could not operate properly. Local representatives believe that improving the economic conditions of the border area residents, who have continued to grow in the last few days, is important.

Pasang Nurpu Sherpa, head of Bhotekoshi rural municipality, said that the increase in bilateral trade due to the ease of the border has greatly improved the local market in Tatopani. According to him, local people have found employment in transporting goods, which has helped raise their standard of living. He added, "Now that the border is open, more attention needs to be paid to road improvements."

Not only Tatopani but also Rasuwagadhi, another major border crossing with China, is busy. Government officials report that the import of Chinese materials through the border has almost doubled compared to previous years. According to Ram Prasad Pathak, head of Rasuwagadhi Customs Office, most of the electric BYD cars, Joelong microbuses, Kinglong microbuses, and vans have been imported this year. He noted that 50 such electric vehicles enter the Rasuwagadhi customs every day, along with other materials. These imports have generated significant revenue for the state and provided local employment, elevating living standards.

The growing activities at the northern border is evident from the business volume in this area. According to the Department of Customs, in the last fiscal year 2079/80, a total of Rs. 43.35 billion worth of imports and Rs. 1.20 billion worth of exports were made through these two checkpoints. In the 11 months of the current year, imports have reached Rs 92.62 billion, and exports Rs 1.63 billion. Exports from Nepal to China are limited.

Last year, about 20 percent of the goods imported from China came through these two ports. About 34 percent of the total imports from China in the current year have entered through these ports. Still, most trade with China is conducted by sea. In the past, when the border was closed, traders had to import and export by sea and air. Now, they seem to prefer importing Chinese goods by road. According to traders, it takes about one and a half months to bring goods by sea, while by road, the goods arrive at the border in 2-3 weeks.

Nepal trades with 170 countries, with most trade conducted with India. In 11 months of this year, goods worth Rs 908.29 billion have been imported from India alone. Exports to India are also significant, with goods worth Rs 94.51 billion exported in 11 months of the current year. China is the second-largest source of imports. In the current year, goods worth Rs. 27.28 billion have been imported from China, while goods worth Rs. 2.4 billion have been exported from Nepal to China. According to Department of Customs’ data, most of these exports are from the two northern border crossings.


No comments yet. Be the first one to comment.