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An opportunity awakened by the northern border

As important as the opening of the border is, the multifaceted benefits can be reaped.
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Seven of the northern trading points that were closed by China after the start of the Corona epidemic have been operational since Saturday. Two popular checkpoints, Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani, have already been opened. The Chinese side says that seven more border crossings will be opened gradually. Even after the end of the Corona epidemic, an environment has been created between the two countries to open the border through negotiations and agreements at various stages.

An opportunity awakened by the northern border

The opening of the border, though delayed, is welcome. The operation of the border crossing has brought relief to the residents of the border areas and encouraged traders. The state should also focus on getting maximum benefit from these trade channels.

When the corona epidemic was spreading, it was natural for China to stop crossing the border to prevent infection. But even after the end of the epidemic, the blockade was being prolonged in an unnatural manner. The closure of the border affected the people living in the border areas and doing business through the border. Some locals lost their jobs, traders were displaced. Nepali market became expensive when Chinese goods were imported from India through a circuitous route. Exports from Nepal to China also decreased.

Residents and traders of the border areas have been asking the government for an initiative to open the border. Lately, in most of the discussions between the two countries, Nepal has been raising the issue of opening the border. Chalti's Rasuwagadhi crossing, which is close to the capital Kathmandu, has been partially opened and closed since the start of the Corona epidemic, but it has only been a year since it became fully operational. It has been only nine months since the other Tatopani crossing was opened in a phased manner and allowed to pass even for the general public. As before the earthquake of 2072, the operation of the checkpoint has not yet been completed. The Chinese side has not yet allowed Nepalese civilians to reach Khasa Bazar, which is about 9 kilometers away.

Tiptala in Taplejung, Kimathanka in Sankhuwasabha, Lapchi and Falek in Dolakha, Thapla in Gorkha, Korla in Mustang and Morimla in Dolpa were opened last Saturday. Other ports at Mugu (two), Gorkha, Solukhumbu, Humla, Bajhang and Darchula are scheduled to be opened gradually by August 15. During the visit of Foreign Minister Narayankaji Shrestha to China last March, an agreement was reached to open all 14 traditional trade channels. Some of the roads cannot be run due to extreme cold and snow in winter. At least for the next winter, the residents of the border areas should not be delayed in opening the rest of the border.

With the opening of the border, business activity in that area naturally increases. As the number of Chinese tourists visiting by air is increasing, if the land border can be operated smoothly, the arrival can increase even more. Both countries can benefit as pilgrims can travel through the Nepal-China border. Governments on both sides should be able to make easy arrangements for border crossing. Ease of road transport is most important to benefit from the checkpoints. Somewhere the roads connecting the northern border are being built, some are being upgraded, some are just taking initiative but all the work is slow. If good roads shorten the travel time, Chinese goods can reach the Nepali market at a discounted price, Nepali products can also reach the Chinese market at a cheaper cost of transportation. Nepal has not been able to get the expected benefits due to the non-upgrading of the road up to the Tatopani border crossing where more business can be done.

Nepal has the highest trade volume with China after India. But compared to the goods imported from China, the share of goods exported from Nepal is very low. In this way, while the borders are open, the government should prepare an environment to increase exports by reducing the trade deficit with China. Nepali products such as carpets, handmade paper, handicraft materials, herbs and vegetables are exported to China.

The government should facilitate the identification of more items that can be exported from Nepal and search for markets. As there is a risk of illegal transactions like gold smuggling through the checkpoints, the state's surveillance should also be strengthened. As important as the opening of the border is, it is more important to be able to take multifaceted benefits.

प्रकाशित : जेष्ठ १४, २०८१ ०६:२८
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