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Goods ‘worth billions’ stuck at China border

KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 30

A huge volume of goods destined for Nepal is stuck on the China border due to restrictions in movement along the northern border.

According to importers, merchandise, including clothes, and edibles have not moved from the border for almost a year. Even though Chinese authorities opened the border briefly a few times, not all goods could be brought in. Consequently, prices of products, especially those imported from China, have shot through the roof, said Nepal Chamber of Commerce.

Even though Chinese products are comparatively cheaper, the border restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus have made them quite expensive and new items are yet to arrive in the market, added the NCC.

Citing the threat of COVID-19 infection, Chinese authorities have restricted all types of movement across the border. While the border had opened for a few days recently, it was closed again, said NCC President Rajesh Kazi Shrestha.

He said China had revealed its double standards in trade with Nepal during the COVID-19 pandemic. “They keep saying they are supporting Nepal, but because of their flip-flop decisions regarding border movement, many businessmen are having to suffer,” he added.

He said goods worth billions of rupees had been stuck at Chinese ports for nearly a year.

“Jackets bought for last year’s winter are still stuck at checkpoints.

Food items are rotting at the border. This has adversely affected our traders,” he added.

Small quantity of goods is arriving in Nepal at the moment, he claimed. However, the exact data on the number of containers and quantity of goods stranded on the Chinese side are yet to be compiled.

Both the Kyirong and Tatopani checkpoints are closed.

The Department of Customs Spokesperson Shishir Ghimire acknowledged that the government did not have the exact data on the quantity of goods stranded at the two checkpoints connected with China. He, however, claimed that after holding discussions with the Chinese authorities, they had started releasing a limited number of containers bound for Nepal, but not regularly.

According to Nepal Fruits Retailers Association, recently 10 containers of food items had entered Nepal from the Tatopani border. However, as the containers had been stuck at the border for a long time, some of the items had started rotting. As per the association, prices of food items, especially those imported from China, may spike by 25 to 30 per cent in the coming months unless the supply situation eases.

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