Editorial

Connection needed

  • Nepal should immediately open a liaison office at Visakhapatnam Port in Adhra Pradhesh

Feb 28, 2018-

After over two years of delay, the government is finally considering to open a liaison office at Visakhapatnam Port in India to facilitate the movement of cargoes bound for Nepal. The government should now expedite this process, as the lack of a contact office at the seaport in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has delayed work related to cargo clearance and hit the delivery of finished goods and raw materials in Nepal.

India had agreed in principle to allow Nepal to use Vishakhapatnam Port in 2009. Nepal finally got the permission to use the port in February 2016.

Our southern neighbour had allowed Nepal to use this port after the Nepali government demanded an alternative seaport for the landlocked country to conduct third-country trade. Before Visakhapatnam Port was opened for Nepal, Nepali traders were solely relying on the seaport in Kolkata to import and export goods.

Although Nepal has now gained access to Visakhapatnam Port, traders have not made much use of the facility due to delays in work related to document processing and cargo clearance. Currently, the Ministry of Commerce and the central bank have to send various documents, including letters of credit and customs clearance permits, to release goods that have arrived at the port. These documents are being sent through the Nepali embassy in New Delhi. However, the embassy has been taking a long time to forward these documents to the port authority. If a contact office is established in Visakhapatnam, document processing could be expedited. This would enable traders to release the goods early, save costs, and make the delivery of merchandise on time.

Another problem at Visakhapatnam Port, according to traders, is presence of a single customs agent to clear Nepal-bound cargo. If a liaison office is set up, it could look into such problems and come up with amicable solutions.

One of the attractions of the Visakhapatnam Port, unlike the one in Kolkata, is that it is a deepwater port. This means the port can handle bigger cargo vessels, reducing ocean freight cost. Also, there is too much of congestion at the seaport in Kolkata as a result of which traders have to pay demurrage and detention charges, which increases trading cost.

Considering these benefits, Nepal should reap maximum benefits from the access given to the seaport. The first step towards this would be to set up a liaison office.

Published: 28-02-2018 08:29

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