Nepali embassy in Beijing says it will negotiate with Chinese authorities as traders fear their investment worth billions of rupees will sink if they miss the festive shopping season.
The goods ordered by Nepali traders worth billions of rupees from China for Dashain, Nepal’s biggest festival and shopping occasion in October, may not arrive before the festival, as Beijing has imposed an indefinite Covid lockdown in Lhasa and different other cities of Tibet.
There are a few chances of the northern border points opening before the festive season, traders and the government officials said.
Issuing a press statement on August 22, the Consulate General of Nepal in Lhasa, said that Covid cases are rising in Tibet which has forced China to impose a complete lockdown in Lhasa, Shigatse, Nyalam, Kerung and other places.
“There are low chances that the border points will reopen anytime soon,” said the statement.
However, Nepali authorities said they have requested China to allow movement of the stranded trucks by following Covid safety protocols.
Except for essential sectors like health, all other government offices are closed in the area.
Nepali officials in Lhasa said they were trying to collect information about trade points.
“But due to the lockdown, it is difficult to contact the Commerce Department in Tibet,” according to the statement.
As the exact number of trucks is unknown, it said that 50-55 goods carriers are stranded, according to the statement.
As the coronavirus infection is seen in other cities of China as well, it might have also stopped the goods carrier heading to Nepal in those cities also, the statement said.
Covid cases are increasing in Tibet and even some Nepalis staying in Tibet have been infected.
“We came to know through the traders and transporters that containers ready to head for Nepal carrying goods like apple, garlic and other food items, electric vehicles, among others, targeting the festival, have been stuck in different places of Tibet,” the press statement said.
The Consulate General of Nepal has informed the chief district officers of Rasuwa and Sindhupalchok and the customs chiefs regarding the situation in Tibet through WeChat, a social media messaging application.
At the request of the Lhasa Consulate General of Nepal, the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing has said that it would be negotiating with the Chinese authorities to open the passage for exporting essential goods to Nepal.
“I have not been informed about the latest developments. But there are fewer chances of the border points reopening,” said Naresh Katuwal, immediate past president of the Federation of Nepal National Business.
“This year too, it will sink billions of investment of Nepali traders who ordered goods by taking loans from the banks.”
Even if the goods that have arrived in Guangzhou are rerouted through the sea, it will take more than a month and a half to arrive in Nepal, said Katuwal.
China closed the northern border weeks after it agreed to open it for two-way trade.
China closed the Tatopani border point on August 10 and the Rasuwagadhi border point on August 14, just as Nepali Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka visited the northern neighbor, following a rise in coronavirus infections in Tibet.
The container trucks hold goods worth billions of rupees imported for the upcoming Dashain festival, and they have remained stranded at the checkpoints for the last three weeks.