The government has decided to sign an agreement with China to become a part of the northern neighbour’s “One Belt, One Road (OBOR)” initiative.
A Cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon decided to sign a framework agreement ahead of the OBOR conference slated to be held in Beijing on May 14-15.
According to officials at Foreign Ministry, Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong will sign the framework on Thursday (May 11). The date for signing the pact was finalised after China agreed to retreat on its definition of “free trade” and to invest in Nepali currency and dollar.
“Now only a framework agreement will be signed. More agreements will be signed in the future based on the necessity of vairous sectors,” said Minister for Information and Communications Surendra Karki.
The brainchild of Chinese President Xi, OBOR aims to enhance the traditional trade routes from China through India, Central Asia and Europe.
During his recent visit to China, PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal had assured Chinese leaders that Nepal would be a signatory to the initiative within April. In fact, PM Dahal was invited to the conference but the government made this arrangement due to the elections.
At least 28 heads of state and over 150 nations have confirmed their participation in the conference. Conceived and bankrolled by China, OBOR is a long-term strategic initiative to improve connectivity and enhance trade routes from Southeast Asia to Europe.
The government has already confirmed Nepal’s participation for the OBOR conference with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara leading the Nepali delegation to the conference.
Two other ministers—Physical Infrastructure Minister Ramesh Lekhak and Communications Minister Surendra Karki—are in the delegation joined by other senior government officials. The conference will kick off on May 14.