Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) today sought simplification of zero tariff facility with China.
Addressing an interaction with Chinese ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai on bi-lateral economic ties between Nepal and China president of Nepal Chambers of Commerce Rajesh Kazi Shrestha stressed the need for simplification of zero tariff facility provided by the China for Nepali goods. “Though Chinese government has provided duty-free facility to 7,831 products from Nepal, exporters have been facing various troubles in customs due to quality certification of the product, ” he told the Chinese ambassador requesting him to help validate certificates issued by Nepali lab.
Highlighting the potential areas of Chinese investment in Nepal, he asked the envoy to invest in hydropower, tourism, agriculture, hospitality and construction sector for better returns to investors.
Likewise, Shrestha also stressed the need for increasing flight connectivity to major cities of China to attract more Chinese tourists to Nepal.
Responding to the Chambers request, ambassador Chuntai said that Nepal should upgrade its infrastructure to attract more tourists. “Efforts are underway to operate direct air flights on Beijing-Kathmandu and Shanghai-Kathmandu routes,” he said, adding, “But apart from upgradation of Tribhuvan International Airport, Pokhara and Bhairahawa regional airports also need to be upgraded to attract more Chinese tourists.”
He also said that the limited capacity of Tribhuvan International Airport and lack of other international airports in Nepal are major hurdles in increasing air connectivity between Nepal and China.
Currently, the government has been upgrading Gautam Buddha airport in Bhairahawa to regional international airport with the assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB), whereas it is also planning to develop another regional international airport in Pokhara with Chinese assistance.
“Once two international airports are constructed in Pokhara and Lumbini, there will be more space for air connectivity and more Chinese tourists will come to Nepal,” he said, adding that there were more Chinese airlines that wanted to conduct direct flights to Nepal from Beijing and Shenzhen, if TIA was upgraded.
Likewise, the flow of Chinese tourists has been increasing in recent years. Arrivals from the northern neighbour touched an all-time high of 113,173 last year largely due to improved air connectivity, according to Tourism Ministry.
With the growing number of Chinese arrivals to Nepal, the two countries have also agreed to let Chinese carriers operate 56 flights weekly from 14 flights earlier a few months ago.
Currently, three Chinese airlines – Air China, China Eastern and China Southern – operate daily scheduled flights to Nepal from Guangzhou, Kunming and Lhasa, whereas China’s Sichuan Airlines has been showing interest in linking Nepal soon.
The Chinese envoy also stressed the need to promote Nepal as a tourist destination in China. “Nepal can attract a portion of the large number of Chinese tourists through promotional activities,” he said, adding that every year, around 97 million Chinese travel abroad. “Nepal can also benefit by attracting tourists visiting Tibet as Tibet receives 15 million visitors annually.”
Hailing Nepal’s socio-economic progress in recent years, Chuntai said that Chinese government was committed to extending maximum support to Nepal.
China has granted 95 per cent tax exemption to Nepal in the import of 831 products, he said, adding that Nepali tea and handicraft items have a very good market in China and there is high possibility of increasing its export there. “Chinese Government is also positive towards assisting Nepal for establishing a ‘Special Economic Zone’ at Panchkhal in Kavre.”
Nepal’s trade deficit with China stands at $711 million last year
However, Nepali business community is eager to trade with China via Kerung point as the Tatopani customs has been closed due to the Sindhupalchowk landslide recently.
Nepal-China trade through Tatopani customs point has been at a standstill for the last three weeks as the Araniko Highway to Tibet was destroyed by the landslide and flood. The Chinese envoy said that he is trying to facilitate transportation of trade goods through the Kyirong-Rasuwagadhi route.