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Flood cuts off Nepal-China trade lifeline

Publication Date : 14-08-2014

 

The Sunkoshi flood has cut off Araniko Highway, the lifeline of Nepal-China trade.

With about 1.5 km of the Jure segment of the highway badly damaged by the landslide of August 2, the supply of Chinese goods via Tatopani remains halted.

Of the total import from China that comes through this border, 30-40 per cent happens during this time, targeting the biggest festival of Dashain.

Exports to and imports from China have come to a standstill while goods being brought in for Dashain have been stuck on either side of the border—Tatopani in Nepal and Khasa in China.

Unless the government acts swiftly to reopen the highway, said Ram Krishna Prasain, executive committee member of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), not only will prices shoot up, importers and wholesalers will suffer losses too.

Last fiscal year, goods worth 19 billion Nepalese rupees (US$191,400 million) were imported via Tatopani. The route handles around 25 percent imports from China.

Importers estimate the daily losses caused by the transport disruption at 150 million Nepalese rupees ($1.51 million).

Nepal imports large quantities of ready-made garment, industrial raw materials and fruits, and a small volume of electronic goods from the northern neighbour via land.

Tatopani Customs chief Mimanshu Adhikari said clearance of goods has been almost nil in the past 12 days.

It has affected revenue collection in this peak import season. The customs office has got a revenue target of 6 billion Nepalese rupees ($60.4 million) for this fiscal year.

Loaded trucks occupy all the space on the customs premises while hundreds of trucks laden with goods have been stranded in Khasa, China.

“As goods worth billions of rupees have been stuck, business partners in China are inquiring us about the matter,” said Nilkantha Chaulagain, president of Trans-Himalayan Borders Commerce Association.

“Although the government has opened an alternative way, bigger trucks can’t play on it.”

FNCCI president Pradeep Jung Pandey said around 600 Nepal-bound containers from Khasa have been stranded. “The goods run the risk of being damaged,” he told a press meet on Wednesday.

Most of the lorries have been carrying clothes, footwear and fruits, among other things imported for the upcoming festive season.

Due to the supply disruption, people were likely to face a shortage.

The FNCCI has urged the government to open the highway at the earliest.

According to Nepal Truck Containers Entrepreneurs’ Association, more than1,200 carriers operate on the highway.

Sambhu Bahadur Timilsina, vice-president of the association, said they have invested more than 20 billion Nepalese rupees ($201.5 million) in the transport business on the route.

 

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