June 6, 2018
The Nepalese prime minister will have a sizable shopping list to pursue when he visits China for an official state visit later this month.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli eyes sizeable support from Beijing to development projects during his five-day state beginning on June 19 with various line ministries forwarding dozens of schemes for Chinese funding.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received dozens of requests from several ministries for undertaking projects under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative that Beijing is actively pushing across the globe. These projects include rail, road, energy cooperation, trade and commerce and protocol deal on transit and transportation in connection with the northern neighbour.
Officials at the Commerce Ministry said three sea ports—Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou—and two land ports have been identified for Nepal’s third country trade via China. A text for this is in the final stage of signing. Other proposals include slashing duty on raw material import and measures to reduce trade deficit through increased access for Nepali products to the Chinese market. Sources ruled out a free trade agreement but said Nepal was looking for other measures to facilitate trade with the giant neighbour.
The Commerce Ministry is also pursuing opening of the branch of a Chinese bank in Nepal through an MoU. Another proposal is on reopening of the Tatopani trading point and upgradation of border infrastructure. Construction of dry ports in Rasuwa and Timure and setting up cross-border economic cooperation zones are also on the agenda.
The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport has forwarded proposals on building all-weather north-south corridors under the BRI. This includes detailed project report and construction of a dedicated two-lane Kimathanka-Khadbari-Dhankuta-Rani road. Other links are Karnali Corridor (Jamunaha-Hilsa), Gandaki Corridor (Belhaiya-Korola), Thori-Kerung Corridor, Kodari-Birgunj Corridor and Bhitthamod-Lamabagar-Lapach Corridor.
During the visit, the Nepali side is all set to propose a detailed feasibility study for two proposed rail lines— Kerung- Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu and Kathmandu-Lumbini-Pokhara—under the BRI framework with Chinese assistance, said Madusudan Adhikari, secretary at the MoPIT. The ministry also
forwarded proposals on protocol for using Tibetan highways, construction of bridges on the Tatopani highway, and the Tokha-Chhahare tunnel.
The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation has proposed construction of the Galchhi-Kerung 400kv cross-border transmission line, Butwal-Attariya-Mahendranagar (765kv), East-West transmission line via East-West Highway (400kv), Marsyangdi-Kathmandu (400kv) and Karnali and Koshi corridors and 132kv double circuit transmission line monopole around Ring Road.
Another proposal concerns dialogue mechanism on energy cooperation between Nepal and China at the secretary and joint-secretary levels. For consideration of the political leadership to execute various hydropower projects, the ministry has proposed Kimathanka-Arun (450MW), Tamor (762MW), Sunkoshi II (1110MW), Sunkoshi III (536MW), Nalsingh Gad (426MW) and Uttarganga (300MW). Most likely, the Nepali side will seek Chinese assistance to build the Tamor project in a joint venture with a Nepali entity, said sources.
Under the BRI framework, some irrigation and water resource projects such as Panchkhal Valley lift irrigation project, Sunkoshi Marin Diversion Multipurpose Project, Eastern Tarai River Management Project, Mid-hill Tar lift irrigation project and proposal for Mahadev Khola rainwater harvest are included. Other areas of cooperation could be the proposed Madan Bhandari Institute of Science and Technology, Kathmandu Ring Road expansion (phases II and III) and setting up disaster risk reduction centres in all provinces.
Another proposal is on joint border patrols in northern districts bordering China’s Tibet but no decision has been made, said Home Secretary Prem Rai. Other proposals are building small-size educational and public health facilities in the seven provinces, among others.