India

India, Nepal discuss creation of cross-border economic zones

India and Nepal on Monday reviewed the development of cross-border trade infrastructure and discussed ways to boost trade and investment, including the creation of cross-border economic zones.

These matters were discussed during a virtual meeting of the bilateral inter-governmental committee on trade and transit, seen as another step towards the normalisation of ties that were hit by a border row earlier this year.

Nepal had indicated its desire to review various issues related to trade and transit arrangements during foreign secretary Harsh Shringla’s visit to Kathmandu last month.

A statement from the Indian embassy in Kathmandu said the meeting reviewed the development of cross-border trade infrastructure and discussed ways to promote investments, including a new proposal on developing cross-border economic zones and holding a meeting of the joint business forum.

The two sides also reviewed the treaties on trade and transit. The commerce secretaries of the two countries noted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, there was smooth and unimpeded movement of trade and commercial cargo in trucks across the land border with the facilitation of both governments.

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“The wide-ranging discussions today and the progress made in the meeting are expected to further support the expansion in economic and commercial ties between India and Nepal,” the statement said.

The inter-governmental committee is the apex bilateral mechanism to review and set the way forward for bilateral trade and economic ties. Monday’s meeting was chaired by commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan and his Nepalese counterpart Baikuntha Aryal and attended by representatives of different ministries from both sides.

India-Nepal ties took a hit when Kathmandu issued a new political map in May that laid claim to Indian territories in the Kalapani region. India rejected the map and the two sides agreed during Shringla’s visit to respect each other’s sensitivities and to handle the border issue through existing mechanisms.

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