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Talks with China essential to open more border points

September 23, 2007

The Rising Nepal
 From Ambar Mainali

Lhasa (Tibet), Sept. 21: Nepal government should hold dialogue with its
northern neighbour China to open up two more border entry points to
promote bilateral trade and narrow down the trade deficit, Bharat Regmi,
Acting consulate general to Tibet said Thursday.

"It is indeed a welcome gesture that the Chinese government is working
to open up the border entry point in Rasuwa, but we need to push ahead
to open two more entry points," Regmi said talking to journalists at his
office in Lhasa.

To a query on complaints of Nepalese businessmen that they were losing
business in Lhasa as the Nepal Government had been waiving visa fee for
the Chinese businessmen, Regmi said the visa fee is a mere US$ 30 to 40
and this amount should not be a decisive factor when it comes to
visiting or not visiting Nepal. But still, Nepal is certainly losing
revenue, he said.

But, there is no denying that Nepal's trade deficit with China is huge.
Around eighty percent of Nepal's trade with China is with the Tibet
Autonomous Region (TAR), he said adding the Nepal government must work
seriously to hold consultations with TAR Government to upgrade
infrastructure at the Khasa entry point.

Regmi who has been serving at the consulate office for the last
two-and-a-half years said that the infrastructure at the border entry
point is very poor and only 80 trucks can enter into Nepal. Moreover,
the road gets obstructed due to snowfall during winter and trade is
hampered, he said.

He said that if the Nepal government can hold talks to build road access
and open an entry point in the Upper Mustang then a lot of Indian
tourists going to Mansarovar and Kailash could travel via the Nepalese
route bringing significant amount of revenue for Nepal.

Asked about the complaints of Nepalese businessmen that the high tax
imposed on Nepalese exports has been hindering trade, Regmi said the
need to waive tax on certain goods is always raised during bilateral
meetings and talks.

"I have been requesting the TAR government to remove tariff and
non-tariff barriers," he said.

The Chinese government has waived taxes on nearly 100 items exported by
the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). But the Nepalese businessmen
unfortunately have not been trading on those items, he said.

He said that Nepal's trade deficit with China stood at nine billion
rupees. Dwelling on the positive side, Regmi said that the tourists
visiting Nepal from Tibet has gone up. The figures from last year
reveals that 13,000 Chinese tourists were given visa to visit Nepal.

Shedding light on the gradual displacement of Nepalese businessmen,
Regmi said Nepalese businessmen numbered nearly 5,000 in Lhasa and Tibet
during the time of King Jayasthiti Malla. But, down the years, their
number has been going down.

He informed that nearly two dozen Nepalese businessmen were working in
Lhasa and, of them, nearly a dozen had earned a good name for being
enterprising businessmen.

Around 368 Nepalese are permanently residing in Tibet, most of them in
Lhasa. Seven of them have already given up their Nepalese citizenship.
"The Consulate Office has been issuing passport to Nepalese who have
been living in Tibet for many years but have not got Nepalese
citizenship, he said.

He said nearly 200 Nepalese workers are working in Lhasa. They are
mostly absorbed in the hospitality business. As no labour contract is
signed by the workers with the Chinese employers, sometimes it is
difficult to address their problems, Regmi added.

Regmi said Nepalese businessmen who often deal in Yarchagumba sometimes
face problems as they do not have a signed business transaction with the
Chinese, he said.

Whenever there are problems the consulate office works as the mediator
to settle the issue, he said. Regmi referring to the dark side informed
that some 40 Nepalese have been serving prison terms in Lhasa after
being nabbed with illegal drugs.

Regmi sounded upbeat when he said that the consulate office opened in
1956 has so far managed to sustain its expenses. The TAR Government has
provided land for the complex of the office. Talks are underway to
convert the understanding into a written agreement, he informed.

He said that the consulate has also been running a primary school named
"Gorkha Primary School", where the children of the Nepalese expatriates

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