The Tatopani transit point on the Nepal-China border in Sindhupalchok district, had opened for full-fledged operation on May 1, raising high hopes of increased trade. The transit point was closed to control the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. However, the export through this transit point is not going up as expected.
It is seeing partial exports only. Three containers loaded with utensils and handicraft goods for export to China and headed for Sigatse are stuck at Tatopani dry port. These goods were destined for Sigatse in response to the demand placed by Chinese traders. “The export is almost non-existent. It has been a week now since the export clearance forms for this consignment have been filled up.
Instead of the exports picking up, even the number of containers carrying imported goods transiting through this transit point is decreasing day by day,” said Dayananda KC, Chief Customs Officer at Tatopani Customs Office. As he said, although the export through the transit point has been opened, it is only partial. With the opening of export, Nepali traders can now take containers carrying export goods, including herbs and food grain up to the midpoint of the Miteripul or the Nepal-China Friendship Bridge on the border. “It’s not that the people’s and vehicles’ movement is allowed up to Khasa.
Only the export consignment can be transported up to Khasa,” Chief Customs Officer KC said. His observation is that Nepalis cannot supply adequate goods for export through the transit point like before. Earlier, the export of food grains, vegetables as well as herbs up to Khasa was a good source of income of Nepalis. Around 500 Nepalis used to reside in Khasa as a permanent resident running different activities including hotel. But there is no crowd of people in Khasa. Customs Officer KC said there was no possibility of export of goods except handicraft goods from Nepal even if exports is opened.
Nepali businesspersons bring apples, garlic and clothes in6-7 containers up to Miteri bridge towards Nepal through Silk Company from Khasa. In the meeting, businesspersons demanded with the Chinese Side to allow them to go up to Khasa, but it was not positive towards it, said Manager of Silk Company, Bijay Sherpa. Earlier, apples, garlic, wool, as well as heavy-weight goods including pipe of hydropower projects were used to be imported via Tatopani check point. More than 600 workers load and unload goods in a queue system at customs yard. A target of collecting Rs 4.62 billion revenue was set in the current fiscal year, Rs 2.20 billion has been collected so far.
A local businessman, Dorjee Lama, said they have been facing problem as China has now started delivering goods through trade channel. It would take around one month to receive one container of goods, he added.