Kathmandu, Dec 25 (IANS) In a significant departure, Nepal and China have agreed to sign a long-term petroleum deal to import fuel from Beijing. With this, Nepal will end the Indian monopoly over fuel imports.
The foreign ministers of Nepal and China have directed the concerned authorities to seal the deal at the earliest, officials said.
This followed a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Friday.
For exploring the possibilities of importing fuel on an urgent basis, a two-member team from the ministry of commerce and supplies and Nepali Oil Corp has reached Beijing.
Thapa is the senior most Nepali official to visit China after Kathmandu came out with a new constitution, protests against which have virtually sealed the India-Nepal border creating major shortages in Nepal.
“By overcoming the harsh geographical and environmental conditions, for the first time, we have agreed to supply fuel to Nepal that it urgently needs. Foreign Minister Thapa and I had very in-depth talks and reached a broad consensus,” Yang said at a joint press meet in Beijing with Thapa.
Thapa said: “I am very happy to note that China has instructed the petroleum export authority to be in touch and discuss issues related with the long-term trade of petroleum products with Nepal.”
A press statement issued after the meeting by the foreign affairs ministry stated that China had expressed a desire to seriously examine Nepal’s proposals to import petroleum products from Beijing.
The two countries will jointly examine matters relating to price, transportation and logistics. As a friendly gesture, China will provide additional fuel to Nepal’s northern areas bordering Tibet.
Nepal and China also agreed to upgrade and operationalize the existing border points and develop the other border points to promote connectivity between the two countries.
China has agreed to give priority to the reopening of the Tatopani-Zhangmu border point, which has been disrupted after the April earthquake that killed thousands in Nepal.
The intergovernmental mechanisms have been tasked to advance negotiations on the proposals on free trade area, transit and Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA).
Thapa and Wang also discussed a transit treaty between the two countries.
Thapa said the treaty would enable Nepalese to access travel and goods from other countries through Chinese ports.
On India-Nepal relations, Thapa said: “Immediately after the promulgation of the constitution, there has been some misunderstanding between Nepal and India.
“Because of this, India imposed unofficial obstruction on transit and supply of fuel and other essential commodities,” he said.
“That caused a severe impact on the Nepalese society. It also had a negative impact on our economic growth. But I am very happy to say at this point of time that things are moving and improving,” said Thapa.