June 13, 2019 3:50:50 am
Keeping in line with the new government’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy, India has sanctioned a relief supply of fertilisers to adjoining Nepal and approved a government-to-government pact between the two nations for fertilisers to help Kathmandu avoid long procedural hassles.
The G-2-G pact was pending since December 4, 2018, when Nepal submitted the first draft of the proposed memorandum of understanding. It was resubmitted on May 2 after a meeting of officials of both nations last January.
At a meeting on Tuesday, an inter-ministerial committee approved the immediate supply of 30,000 tonnes of urea and 20,000 tonnes of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) to the Himalayan nation at the earliest “to meet the supply shortages in Nepal for the upcoming paddy season”.
Kathmandu had requested that the fertilisers be despatched by mid-June to avoid any supply crisis.
The committee also gave consent to Nepal’s request for the G-2-G deal, initially for five years, for supply of urea priced at import parity price and DAP priced by a Joint Steering Committee of both nations.
This would allow direct purchase from India by Nepal without going through the tendering process which normally takes Nepal six months.
The approvals are in line with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s outlined strategy on June 6 when he said that cooperation in the neighbourhood should be incentivised, and there should not be much emphasis on reciprocity.
Jaishankar said that India needed to promote cooperation in the neighbourhood by often stepping out. Pushing for a generous policy from New Delhi, he said that it could not be reciprocal because India has more resources and larger capability.
Sources said the agreement would be ratified soon as there is “likelihood of a high-level bilateral visit to or from Nepal which will provide a good opportunity to sign the MoU”. It would serve both nations’ common interests and contribute to the enhancement of future bilateral cooperation, says the approved MoU.
Under a treaty signed in 2009, India agreed to sell 100,000 tonnes of chemical fertiliser to Nepal annually through its state-run firms at import parity price to avoid procedural hassles. However, this got halted in 2015-16 due to the Tarai agitation and subsequent trade embargo by India.
As per the G-2-G proposal, Nepal plans to import 100,000 tonnes of urea and 50,000 tonnes of DAP this fiscal year. The overall five-year purchase is estimated at 565,000 tonnes of urea and 370,000 tonnes of DAP.
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