On his first official visit to China, Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is expected to clinch key deals including on transit and fuel import to prevent a future crisis like the one it recently witnessed at the border with India. According to reports in the Chinese media Mr Oli has said that Nepal wants access to Chinese sea ports for trade.
The Nepal leader is on a week-long visit from March 20 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang. This is highest level interaction between the two countries after the new government in Nepal was formed in October 2015.
Impact on India’s fuel exports to Nepal
Emphasising on transit and transport agreements, Mr Oli said: “Nepal is eager to utilise seaports of China.” These comments by Mr Oli are significant in the backdrop of the blockade of key border trade points between India and Nepal, which had occurred due to Madhesi agitation against Nepal’s new constitution.
Ahead of his meeting with China’s top leadership, Mr Oli stressed on the importance of relationship with China, and said that the relationship is “as high as the Himalayas”. Mr Oli also said that this symbolizes the friendship between the two countries.
Nepal has sought to strengthen ties with Beijing to reduce its dependence on India. “Nepal is a small neighbour of China and we have lagged a little bit behind in development, but I believe that Nepal can benefit from China’s progress on the economic front,” Mr Oli said. According to analysts, Nepal’s agreement with China on fuel imports will not hurt the overall relationship between India and Nepal as India is still considered the most important partner of Nepal.
It is estimated that China had sent around 1,000 metric tonnes of petrol to Nepal during the blockade. Nepal buys around $1.3 billion of gasoline from Indian Oil Corporation annually.
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