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Nepal, China to sign petroleum deal to import fuel from Beijing

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Nepal China Petroleum Deal
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Kathmandu: In a significant departure, Nepal and China have agreed to sign a long-term petroleum deal to import fuel from Beijing. With this, Nepal will end the Indian monopoly over fuel imports.

The foreign ministers of Nepal and China have directed the concerned authorities to seal the deal at the earliest, officials said.

This followed a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Friday.

For exploring the possibilities of importing fuel on an urgent basis, a two-member team from the ministry of commerce and supplies and the Nepali Oil Corp has reached Beijing.

Thapa is the senior most Nepali official to visit China after Kathmandu came out with a new constitution, protests against which have virtually sealed the India-Nepal border creating major shortages in Nepal.

“By overcoming the harsh geographical and environmental conditions, for the first time, we have agreed to supply fuel to Nepal that it urgently needs. Foreign Minister Thapa and I had very in-depth talks and reached a broad consensus,” Yang said at a joint press meet in Beijing with Thapa.

Thapa said: “I am very happy to note that China has instructed the petroleum export authority to be in touch and discuss issues related with the long-term trade of petroleum products with Nepal.”

A press statement issued after the meeting by the foreign affairs ministry stated that China had expressed a desire to seriously examine Nepal’s proposals to import petroleum products from Beijing.

The two countries will jointly examine matters relating to price, transportation, and logistics. As a friendly gesture, China will provide additional fuel to Nepal’s northern areas bordering Tibet.

Nepal and China also agreed to upgrade and operationalize the existing border points and develop the other border points to promote connectivity between the two countries.

China has agreed to give priority to the reopening of the Tatopani-Zhangmu border point, which had been disrupted after the April earthquake that killed thousands in Nepal.

The intergovernmental mechanisms have been tasked to advance negotiations on the proposals on a free trade area, transit and Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA).

Thapa and Wang also discussed a transit treaty between the two countries.

Thapa said the treaty would enable Nepalese to access travel and goods from other countries through Chinese ports.

On India-Nepal relations, Thapa said: “Immediately after the promulgation of the constitution, there has been some misunderstanding between Nepal and India.

“Because of this, India imposed unofficial obstruction on transit and supply of fuel and other essential commodities,” he said.

“That caused a severe impact on the Nepalese society. It also had a negative impact on our economic growth. But I am very happy to say at this point of time that things are moving and improving,” said Thapa. (IANS)

(Photo: kathmandupost.ekantipur.com)

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China’s Economy Slows As It Tries to Diffuse Trade War With U.S.A.

The impact on China’s economy from the Sino-U.S. trade frictions are not apparent yet, Mao cautioned, adding that the nation will face more “external” uncertainties in 2019.

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China
A woman cleans the window at a Aston Martin luxury car dealership in Beijing, Dec. 12, 2018. Auto sales have fallen sharply in China. VOA

China’s November retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2003 and industrial output rose the least in nearly three years as domestic demand softened further, underlining rising risks to the economy as China works to defuse a trade dispute with the United States.

The world’s second-largest economy has been loosing momentum in recent quarters as a multi-year government campaign to curb shadow lending put increasing financial strains on companies in a blow to production and investment.

The slowdown in Chinese industries has started to weigh on consumer sentiment this year, tapping the brakes on retail sales. Big-ticket items have been the first to be hit, with auto sales declining since May.

Pace of retail sales slows

Retail sales rose 8.1 percent in November from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday, below expectations for an 8.8 percent rise and the slowest since May 2003. In October, sales increased 8.6 percent. Auto sales fell a sharp 10.0 percent from a year earlier.

 

China
People try garments at a retail and wholesale clothing mall in Beijing, July 16, 2018. China’s economic growth slowed in the quarter ending in June, adding to challenges for Beijing amid a mounting tariff battle with Washington. VOA

 

The slump was in line with data released by China’s top auto industry association, which showed sales dived 14 percent in November, the steepest drop in nearly seven years.

The stresses on broad activity have been compounded by a sharp escalation in China’s trade dispute with the United States, which has threatened to fracture global supply chains, chill investment, exports and growth.

Pace of industrial output slows

Industrial output rose 5.4 percent in November, missing analysts’ estimates and matching the rate of growth seen in January-February 2016. Factory output had been expected to grow 5.9 percent, unchanged from October’s pace.

Over the weekend, China reported far weaker than expected November exports and imports, reflecting slower global demand and waning domestic factory activity as profit margins narrow.

With economic growth at its weakest since the global financial crisis, Chinese policymakers are ramping up spending, pushing banks to increase lending and cutting taxes to shore up businesses and ward off a more damaging slump.

USA, China, Trade War, economy
Plastic bags of fentanyl are displayed at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. VOA

The weaker November industrial output and retail sales growth numbers showed that downward pressure on the economy is increasing, said Mao Shengyong, spokesman at the statistics bureau.

Still on track to hit growth target

But China is on track to hit its 2018 economic growth target of around 6.5 percent, Mao told reporters.

“On balance, the latest data show an economy that is under pressure on both the external and domestic front, with policy efforts to shore up growth still falling short,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economists at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

A temporary 90-day trade war truce agreed by the United States and China early this month may have removed some of the immediate pressure on the economy.

Also Read: The Escalating Trade War Between China And U.S. Calls A Truce

The impact on China’s economy from the Sino-U.S. trade frictions are not apparent yet, Mao cautioned, adding that the nation will face more “external” uncertainties in 2019.

Indeed, even in the unlikely event the world’s top two economies reach a durable resolution in their dispute, ebbing domestic demand, mounting household debt and a cooling real estate sector point to a further slowdown in growth next year. (VOA)