November 24: The government’s inability to fully operate Nepal’s customs points in the northern border is taking toll on trade between Nepal and China. The disruption in movement of goods from the border points since late January has reduced the volume of trade with China, which is Nepal’s second largest trade partner.
According to the data made public by the Department of Customs, Nepal’s bilateral trade with China declined by Rs 20 billion in the first four months of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding period of last fiscal year.
The department informed that the volume of bilateral trade with China during the review period was worth Rs 60.41 billion. Nepal’s trade with China during the same period of last fiscal year was of Rs 80.89 billion.
Both export and import with China had increased since the 2015 earthquake but the figures took a nosedive since coronavirus started spreading from China late last year.
During the review period of last fiscal year, Nepal exported goods worth Rs 710 million to China while it imported goods worth Rs 80.18 billion from the northern neighbor. This year, the import has been limited to Rs 60.12 billion while Nepal’s export has also dropped to 209 million.
The border transit points with China that were closed since January are yet to fully reopen. Only the Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi customs points are partially operational.
Hundreds of containers used to enter Nepal on a daily basis prior to the emergence of coronavirus. The entry of containers has dropped to hardly five per day at present.
Nepal’s trade with China has been badly affected because Nepali containers are not allowed to go across the border to bring back goods, says Bachhu Poudel, chairman of Nepal Trans-Himalayan Border Commerce Association.
The border which was completely closed in late January was brought into operation in May, according to the government. But the customs points have not become fully operational till date, says Poudel.
“Hundreds of containers used to enter Nepal every day in the past but hardly five of them enter the country these days,” said Poudel.
The Department of Customs informed that Nepal’s overall foreign trade is returning back to normalcy although the customs points with China remain affected.
According to the department, the country has imported goods worth Rs 402 billion in the first four months of the current fiscal year, which is less than that of the last fiscal year by only ten percent.
Director General of the Department of Customs Suman Dahal says that Nepal’s foreign trade must be considered satisfactory because the government has adopted a policy of increasing exports and reducing imports.