Remarks by Hon. Foreign Minister at a Workshop on “The Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal: Opportunities and Challenges”

Remarks by Hon. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali,
Minister for Foreign Affairs at a Workshop on
“The Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal: Opportunities and Challenges”
7 August 2019




Chairperson of the workshop Mr. Anand Pokharel, Former Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation
Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister DR. Rajan Bhattarai
Prof Liu Weidong, CAS
Prof Shivlal Bhusal, Dean
Prof Dinesh Poudel
Hon Members of Parliament
Distinguished Professors from Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and
Distinguished Participants
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Namaste and Good Morning to you All !

At the outset, I would like to thank South Asia Institute of Advanced Studies and Chinese Academy of Sciences for their cordial invitation to me to address the workshop on “the Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal: Opportunities and Challenges.”

The topic is timely and pertinent for our deliberation. The workshop is important as it brings together the scholars and experts from diverse fields. I would like to welcome the team of professors from the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for travelling all the way from China to Nepal to attend this program, and highly appreciate for conducting the research on the green BRI in the Himalayan Region. I hope their findings will be beneficial to all of us.

I believe such regular interactions, deliberations and exchange of views by experts help to have comprehensive understanding of a project of global scale like BRI.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Belt and Road Initiative is a visionary undertaking of President Xi Jinping launched in 2013. It is a significant milestone that aims at promoting comprehensive connectivity and cooperation among the countries and people in the region and beyond. More than 130 countries have signed the MoU and some others have expressed their willingness to join this landmark initiative. We do believe that it will have a paramount impacts in the development landscope of the region and beyond, in 21st century.

We are happy to witness the miraculous development in China in a relatively short span of time. It has been able to lift its people out of poverty within few decades; not long ago an agrarian economy and has now become the second largest economy in the world.

Connectivity in a comprehensive manner is at the core of the BRI. Five priority areas as set by the BRI are in one way or the other aim to enhance connectivity to build a community of shared interests that fosters development and prosperity.

The connectivity projects of the Initiative will help to support the development strategies of the countries along the Belt and Road in keeping with their national priorities, tap market potential in this region, promote investment and consumption, create demands and job opportunities, enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and mutual learning among the peoples of the relevant countries. Since the multilateralism and collective efforts are facing some challenges, and the tendency towards self-centeredness and protectionism is emerging, initiative like BRI can play an instrumental role to develop collectivism and to protect the spirit of economic globalization with more substantive value addition.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nepal has entered a new era of peace and stability with the promulgation of a new Constitution in 2015 and the successful holding of elections in all three tiers resulting into the formation of strong governments at all levels. You may all know that Nepal aspires to become a middle-income country by 2030 and graduate from LDC status at an early date. The single-minded pursuit of the government remains development and prosperity.

To achieve these goals, we require massive investment in infrastructure development. We also require huge investment of capital and modern technology as well as expertise in the related fields. We believe that Chinese assistance and collaboration through BRI can be significant in supporting our development needs in infrastructures.

Nepal has become a part of the BRI after it signed an MoU in 2017. We are committed to implementing the MoU of Cooperation under BRI to promote sustainable development consistent with our development needs. Efficient connectivity will unfold manifold opportunities in various fields including in trade, investment, manufacturing and tourism.

Nepal and China are committed to enhance connectivity encompassing vital components such as ports, roads, railways, aviation and communications within the framework of Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network. It is a matter of happiness that Joint Communique of the Leaders’ Roundtable of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation has included in its annex “Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway”.

We believe that BRI can support countries like Nepal to grow and prosper at an accelerated speed. As a framework to spur investment and enhance connectivity, BRI can be instrumental in addressing development bottlenecks arising out of connectivity and mobilizing finances for development while ensuring win-win benefits. Being a lanlocked country, Nepal is paying atleast 20 percent additional cost to its production and transit-transport cycle. It is contributing (negatively) to shrink its competitiveness in global market. This fact speaks a volume about the critical importance of connectivity to Nepal.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have concluded some important agreements with China in recent years for enhancing multidimensional connectivity between the two countries. Recently concluded Protocol on implementing Transit Transport Agreement between the two countries provides Nepal access to the Chinese seaports and dryports. This is an important milestone towards Nepal’s transformation from a landlocked country to a land-linked country. I am happy to share with you that we have completed all necessary internal procedures to bring the protocol into effect. Also, we concluded another MoU for building cross-border transmission line with China last year. Trans-Himalayan Railway will be a game changer in our development journey. Our two countries have already signed an MoU on Cooperation in the Railway Project. Pre-feasibility study of this project has already been completed and now we are in the process of feasibilty study and preparation of detailed project report.

Recent development in the areas of tourism, aviation, trade, cultural exchanges and people to people contacts are encouraging. we should explore the ways to unleash the potentials on the area of economic cooperations in the days ahead.

Rt. Hon. President paid a state visit to China in April this year and addressed the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing. The visit provided us a good opportunity to share our views on the importance of Belt and Road Initiative in promoting connectivity and realizing the sustainable development goals for countries like ours. I would like to fondly recall the very indepth statement (s) made by President Xi, where he highlighted the core concepts of BRI, including sustainabilty and green development .

Green BRI is call of the day at a time when we are witnessing the adverse impact of climate change. Unsustainable patterns of production and consumption have accelerated environmental degradation. Countries like Nepal are bearing the brunt of climate change despite negligible emissions from our side. Women and underprivileged community have been its main victims. The only way forward is development of green economy. While striving for economic development, BRI can play an important role in transforming to clean-energy mode and low-carbon economy.

The proposed BRI projects should aim at utilizing the rich resources along the Himalayan range and improving the quality of lives of peoples in those areas, while carefully examinig the sensitivity, vulnarabilty and fragileness of the Himalayas. The facilities and infrastructures thus created should support conservation efforts and help overall development of that region in a sustainable manner.

Nepal wills to contribute the green economy. Endowed by huge hydro resources with more than 40,000 MWs comercially feasible generating capacity, Nepal has great potential in this regard. If we can utilize the potentials of solar, wind and other means of renewable energy alongwith the hydropower, our contribution will be paramount in the region. We want to collaborate with the neighboring countries and welcome more investment and technology transfer in this area.

To materealize the vision of BRI in general, and Trans-Himalayan connectivity infrastuctures in particular, indepth researchs are extremely important, in the areas of geography, goology, hydrology, environment, economics, cultures and many mores. In this regard, collaboration between the think tanks and research institutes like CAS and Nepali research institutes will be very meaningful.

I believe that the workshop will bring forward pragmatic ideas to be utilized to tap the opportunities offered by the BRI.

Once again, I would like to thank the organizers for bringing forth this important topic for deliberations among the experts from diverse sectors.

I wish the workshop a success.

Thank you all for your kind attention !