Though China has already developed infrastructures in Jilong which borders Rasuwagadhi, the Nepali customs point lacks even basic facilities.
A five-member delegation led by Zhou Hui, deputy director general of Department of Commerce of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China is in Nepal to hold discussion with Nepali officials on the customs point.
The visiting delegation met with high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), Department of Customs, Department of Immigration and other concerned officials on Monday to discuss the modality of developing an Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Rasuwagadhi.
Jiba Raj Koirala, joint secretary at the MoCS, led the Nepali delegation at the meeting.
The team is in Nepal to expedite the development of ICD as per the Nepali request. A technical team of China had visited the proposed construction site two weeks ago. It is expected to submit its report to the Chinese government very soon.
“Keeping in view the low volume of trade through the Rasuwagadhi customs, both sides have agreed to operationalize the second largest customs point along the northern border for greater commercial benefits,” a source at the MoCS told Republica. The source further added that the Chinese side wants to develop basic infrastructure at the customs point before starting construction of the proposed dry port.
During the meeting, the Chinese delegation sought information about Nepal´s internal preparation to activate the customs point.
Responding to the Chinese delegation, the Nepali officials said an under secretary will work as the chief of the customs point. They also said a separate plant quarantine unit will be set up at the customs point.
In the budget for current fiscal year, the government has announced to initiate dry ports at Rasuwagadhi customs and Dodhara-Chandani area of Kanchanpur district.
The government has also designated Nepal Inter-modal Transport Development Board (NITDB) to provide additional information to Chinese officials about climatic condition, road connectivity, electricity facility, landscape and the prospect of town development near the proposed site.
The proposed dry port is to be constructed near the Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Project (111 MW) which is being developed inside the Langtang National Park.
Weak trade infrastructures have been blamed as one of the major bottlenecks in Nepal´s trade with China.
China had agreed to support Nepal in upgrading four dry ports in major customs points, including Rasuwagadhi, during the Nepal visit of the then Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in January 2012.
Under the agreement on "Management of Ports in the China-Nepal Border", China has agreed to strengthen Pular-Yari, Jilong-Rasuwa, Zangmu-Kodari, and Riwu-Olangchug Gola border crossings.
Though Nepal shares half a dozen border passes with the northern neighbor, only Tatopani customs has been utilized effectively for bilateral trade so far.
If the Rasuwagadhi dry port plan takes off, it will be the second such infrastructure in northern part of the country. The first dry port in northern part of the country is being constructed at Larcha of Sindhupalchowk with the Chinese support.