Landlocked Nepal, with the help of India, has secured transit to Bangladesh by road and rail and also for using Vishakhapatnam port, India to boost trade with Bangladesh.Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit to India also helped bring the warmth back in India-Nepal ties as both the South Asian countries on Saturday exchanged a number of agreements and MoUs.
Following the meeting between Oli and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, the two sides exchanged letters on transit routes: (i) Transit between Nepal and Bangladesh through Kakarbitta-Banglabandh corridor (ii) Operationalization of Vishakhapatnam Port, according to a document obtained by UNB.
This exchange of letters between India and Nepal would result in simplification of modalities for traffic of goods between Nepal and Bangladesh while transiting through India, through the Kakarbhitta (Nepal) and Banglabandha (Bangladesh) corridor, the document reads.
This exchange of letters would provide for transit facilities for Nepal through the Vishakhapatnam port, it said.
Both the countries also exchanged letters on Rail Transport: (i) Rail transport to/from Vishakhapatnam (ii) Rail transit facility through Singhabad for Nepal’s Trade with and through Bangladesh.
This exchange of letters would allow for rail transport to and from Vishakhapatnam to Nepal. It would also help operationalise rail transit facility through Singabad in India for Nepal’s trade with and through Bangladesh.
These transit agreements will boost Nepal’s third country trade, especially by using the dry port at Birgunj, on the Nepal side of the Ruxaul border with India, according to The Statesman.
The distance between Kakarvitta Land Customs Station (LCS) in Nepal and Banglabandha LCS of Bangladesh is around 54 km. The Siliguri Corridor of India is situated in between the two LCSs, the media outlet said in its report.
Another major point in the agreement is for Nepal to use the rail transit through the Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh) link for trade with Bangladesh and third countries.
The railway transit will help connect Birgunj and Biratnagar (Jogbani) in Nepal with Bangladesh via the Singhabad-Rohanpur interchange point, which is the nearest and most economical route.
The railway distance between Birgunj and Dhaka is over 950 km, while from Biratnagar it is 535 km. The distance between Birgunj and Chittagong, a major port in Bangladesh, is 1,148 km, while from Biratnagar it is 843 km.
The railway distance between Birgunj to Kolkata is 700 km, while to Haldia in West Bengal it is over 800 km. Likewise, the rail distance from Biratnagar to Kolkata is 600 km and to Haldia it is 708 km.
Operationalisation of Vishakhapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh and for rail transport to and from Vishakhapatnam would also help Nepal boost its trade with third countries.
Nepal had been pushing for being allowed to use Visakhapatnam Port as an alternative trade gateway.
Nepal’s foreign trade has been dependent solely on the Haldia port so far.
In 2009, India had approved Visakhapatnam port as a second shipment point for handling container cargo from Nepal.
The opening of Vishakhapatnam port is expected to make Nepal’s third country trade faster as well as cost efficient.
The railway distance between Birgunj and Vishakhapatnam port is double compared to that between Birgunj and Haldia port. But Nepal has been keen to use Vishakapatnam port with its modern facilities.
With cargo trains coming to and from the Birgunj dry port directly from Vishakhapatnam, the new port is expected to make trade for Nepal cheaper, especially bulk trade.