By APD writer Ishwar Khanal
KATHMANDU, Jan.1(APD) -- The year 2018 witnessed several high-level engagements between Nepal and China—the most significant being the signing of 14 agreements in June 2018.
The agreements dubbed as 'historic' has deepened the economic engagement between the two neighbors through heightened infrastructure connectivity, trade and investment, hydro, and tourism.
Nepal's Prime Minister K P Oli's visit to China and meeting with the top Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping, has been a milestone in the age-old relationship.
This shows that China has now emerged as this tiny Himalayan country's largest source of direct foreign investment.
It should be noted that China has so far remained Nepal's second largest trading partner after India.
In fact, Nepal's engagement with China has enhanced when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative in May 2017.
China and Nepal have, in fact, enjoyed friendly neighborhood for thousands of years and have become more intimate in the past 63 years.
The economic relations, undoubtedly, are bound to grow in the future.
Following the high-level bilateral talks, PM Oli's visit to China in June, 2018 witnessed the signing of a number of bilateral agreements/MoUs, including MOU on Energy Co-operation; MOU on Investment and Co-operation on Production Capacity; MOU on Strengthening Co-operation between the two Foreign Ministries; MOU on the Establishment of Mechanism for Facilitation on the Implementation of Nepal-China Co-operation Programs and Projects in Nepal between the two Foreign Ministries; Agreement on Economic and Technical Co-operation; Agreements on the Reconstruction of Friendship Bridge and Rasuwa Bridge; Protocol on the Utilization of Highways in Tibet Autonomous Region, China by Nepal for Cargo Transport; and MOU on Human Resource Development Co-operation.
Meanwhile, the agreement has paved the way for Huwasin Cement Company to set up a cement manufacturing plant in Nepal that will produce 3,000 metric tons cement on daily basis and provide jobs to around 1000 people.
Another significant achievement for Nepal is the agreeing on the text of the protocol to the agreement that China would Nepali traders and businessmen to use Chinese sea and land ports for third country trade ending Nepal's long dependence on India for third-country trading.
Prime Minister K P Oli had signed the Transit and Transportation Agreement with China in March 2016.
According to the agreement, China would allow Nepal to use Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang seaports and Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse dry ports for trading with third countries.
With bilateral trade totaling 1.37 billion U.S. dollars, China is Nepal's second largest trading partner.
Within the last fiscal year 2017-18, which concluded in mid-July, Nepal's trade with China grew by 25 percent, according to the Nepal Rastra Bank --the country's central bank.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)