T.J. Hockenson Authentic Jersey  India Seatrade News

India to allow Nepal use of three rivers for inland waterways to push regional connectivity

      10/08/2019

India has agreed in principle to allow landlocked Nepal to use three inland waterways, thus expanding its transit options to the sea. Nepal will be able to operate its own vessels on the Ganga, which runs parallel to the southern border of the Himalayan state.

A draft letter was finalised during the bilateral trade talks held in Delhi last week, said government officials. India consented to grant access to the Kolkata-Kalughat, Raxaul; Kolkata-Sahebgunj, Biratnagar and Kolkata-Varanasi-Raxaul routes, they said.

Officials of the two countries held the third round of talks on Thursday and Friday last week to review the bilateral trade treaty.

In April 2018, India and Nepal had issued a joint statement, during Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit here, on establishing new connectivity through inland waterways.

The visit had come after the two countries formed a joint technical team, in the preceding month, to study the possibility of operating waterway transportation over various routes. The technical team identified the three routes via Haldia port as the most viable for inland waterway transportation between the two sides, said people aware of the matter.

India has developed a waterway on the Ganga connecting Varanasi and the seaport of Haldia, Kolkata. Access to the Indian waterways will facilitate efficient movement of cargo imported from third countries to Nepal.

India currently grants duty-free access to Nepalese products with at least 30 percent value addition. India has agreed in principle on giving flexibility in tariffs in the goods imported from Nepal, said the officials cited earlier.

Nepal has been urging India to lift the quantitative restriction on the import of acrylic yarn, copper utensils, vegetable ghee and zinc oxide which has been in place since 2002.

Nepal and India have also finalised the draft of a mutual recognition agreement in the trade of agricultural goods. Under the agreement the two countries will recognise the quality certificates issued by each other.