Nepal aims for high-quality cooperation under BRI to drive economic growth: Nepali minister
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can help Nepal achieve its goal of prosperity, as the Himalayan country has seen great potential for high-quality cooperation under the initiative, a Nepali official said.
Sushil K Lamsal, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Nepal to China. (Belt and Road Portal)
BRI is unique and attractive because it lays emphasis and priority on building the basic foundations for economic development in developing countries, said Sushil K Lamsal, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Nepal to China.
BRI is relatively young, with 2020 marking the seventh year since it was proposed, but has already gained visibility and recognition around the world, Lamsal told the Belt and Road Portal in a recent interview.
China and Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation under the framework of the BRI in 2017, with the aim of enhancing cooperation in promoting connectivity of facilities, trade connectivity, financial integration and connectivity of peoples.
Nepal has attached great importance to BRI cooperation, seeking to promote cross-border trade with China through land routes, he said.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we utilized the transportation mechanism between Nepal and China through land routes in procuring and transporting medical supplies,” the official said, highlighting the opportunities and the benefits of developing cross-border trade amid the pandemic.
Most of the medical supplies, some of which were donated by China, were transported to Nepal through land infrastructure such as land ports and routes, he said.
“That is what the Belt and Road Initiative is all about. It is about building linkages, building bridges, building connectivity infrastructure, so that when we have a pandemic like this, or whenever we have any challenges, we can come to each other's assistance very quickly,” Lamsal noted.
The BRI can contribute to Nepal’s development through enhancing production capacity and building connectivity linkages, which will help the country achieve its goal of a prosperous Nepal, he said.
With strengthened efforts to advance the China-Nepal railway, one of the signature linkage projects, the two countries agreed to initiate feasibility studies for the project in 2019.
Nepal and China agreed on construction of a cross-border railway in June 2018. The China-Nepal railway is set to link Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, with Xigaze, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work has been slowed down. But as soon as the epidemic is over, I'm sure the feasibility study in the Nepali part will also begin. And that will lay a very good and solid foundation for taking forward the work in the project,” he said.
Speaking of the challenges ahead, Lamsal said that BRI should focus on many global issues, with the emphasis on high-quality, green, open and clean development, adding that BRI’s policy of mutual consultation and collaboration will be able to combat these challenges.
The official hoped that BRI would “face any challenges on the way with a strong and determined emphasis and provide benefits for people around the world, especially for neighbors like Nepal.”
Nepal will join hands with China to promote the high-quality development of the BRI in the future through synergizing cooperation under the BRI with the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, Lamsal said.
The China-Nepal Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network was one of the fruits of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019. It aims to enhance connectivity between China and Nepal, transforming Nepal into a land-linked country from its current status as a land-locked country.
More cooperation between the two countries is expected in sectors such as infrastructure and ports, roads, railways, energy transmission lines and people to people exchanges, he said.