Undeclared Indian embargo halts BD-Nepal trade

Bangladesh-Nepal bilateral trade has been halted for the past two weeks due to the undeclared Indian trade embargo on Nepal.

BD-Nepal trade
A file photo shows Nepal-bound goods carriers stranded at Fulbari on the India-Bangladesh border.

According to Nepal Transit Warehouse Company, about 200 trucks carrying various imported goods have been stuck at Banlabanda on the India-Bangladesh border. “Bangladeshi exporters are reluctant to dispatch goods to Nepal,” said Yadav Raj Shiwakoti, chief of the company at Kakarvitta, Jhapa. “They fear of a possible obstruction by the Indian customs office at Phulbari.”

Goods including cotton, industrial raw materials, fabric, juice, jam and batteries have been stuck at Banlabanda. “The Bangladeshi traders fear their trucks might be stuck at bordering areas,” Dilip Timilsina, a Nepali trader involved in Bangladesh trade, said.

Due to halting in Nepal-Bangladesh trade, the Mechi Customs Office has been losing Rs1.1 million in revenues every day, according to the custom’s chief Bhim Prasad Adhikari. This means the customs office has lost revenue of more than Rs15 million in the last two weeks.

Due to continued obstruction at the customs point, Dabur Nepal, an Indian multination company, failed to deliver its products like “Chyawanprash” to Bangladesh on Wednesday. Exports of pulses and vegetables to the neighbour has also stopped for the past month.

Bangladesh is the largest importer of Nepali “Musuro” pulse. The two countries have been trading goods through the Kakarbhitta-Phulbari-Banglabanda trade route. Based on international rules, India cannot block this route because a landlocked country should have the access to other markets through neighbouring country, a source at the Customs Office said.

Nepal exports goods such as pulse, medicinal herbs and vegetables to Bangladesh and imports cotton, medicines, battery, fabric, juice, potatoes, milk powder, biscuit, raw jute, tube light and mobile phones, among others from the neighbour. In the last fiscal year, Nepal exported goods worth Rs1.08 billion to Bangladesh, while imports amounted to Rs 2.73 billion.

PARBAT PORTEL, Kathmandupost