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China-Nepal trade port expansion gets under way

Phuntsog Tashi and Palden Nyima in Gyirong, Tibet
Updated: Dec 2,2014 9:47 AM     China Daily

Operations began on Dec 1 at the expansion of the China Gyirong-Nepal Rasuwa Bilateral Port, which will improve trade and relations between China and Nepal.

“It will further help both sides facilitate bilateral trade, and boost tourism and cooperation,” said Zhang Hongbo, deputy Party chief of Xigaze prefecture in the Tibet autonomous region, where the port is located.

Gyirong Port was built in 1962. Trade at the port began to drop off in the mid-1980s and continued to decline through 2006. Port staff were then temporarily moved.

According to the government of the Tibet autonomous region, trade between the countries has been increasing in recent years, and Khasa Port-Tibet’s biggest land port-can’t meet the demand.

“Since 2008, preparatory projects to expand the port have been launched, including equipping the port with inspection and supportive services, completion of Shyaphru Road, and operation of the China-Nepal Friendship Bridge,” said Penpa, director of the region’s Department of Commerce.

“Operation of the port means a solid foundation for China to build the South Asia trading area, and it will help to promote trade between China and South Asian countries in the near future,” said Su Yuanming, director of the Port Administrative Office of Tibet.

Hari Prasad Bashyal, consul general of Nepal in Lhasa, said the operation of the port will enhance and promote trade and commerce, tourism, infrastructure, development, people-to-people exchanges and the socio-economic development of both nations.

Border residents see the port as a great opportunity for improving their livelihood.

Norbu is president of Pasang Lhamu Mini Truck and the Truck Professional Container Association in Bashyal village of Nepal, and came to the site with his team for the launch.

“I am very pleased with the port’s operation because it means more tourists and more business, and I think it will bring dramatic changes to my transportation business,” said Norbu.

“With more tourists and growing demand for business at the port, I am planning to increase the current 150 trucks to 300 in the next few years,” said the 44-year-old.

Tsering Wangyal, a transportation driver from Tibet’s Sakya county, sees the expanded port as a great opportunity as well.

“The road to Gyirong is much safer and the goods can be transported to Nepal’s market faster this way, and I have the confidence that I can make better money here,” said the 32-year-old.

From January to November, trade volume at Gyirong Port reached 1,600 metric tons with a total value of more than 28 million yuan ($4.55 million), almost double the value of the past three years combined, said Phurbu Dondrub, deputy director of Tibet’s Xigaze Customs.

Gyirong means “comfortable valley”, and the place was given this name by Padmasambhava, a great Indian Buddhist master of the 8th century.