Imports via Rasuwagadhi-Kerung customs point, the only gateway for land trade with China, soared by 51 percent in the first two months of the current fiscal year. According to the customs office in Rasuwagadhi, Nepal imported goods worth Rs2.90 billion through the border in the first two months of the current fiscal year, up from Rs1.92 billion during the same period last year.
Trade with the northern neighbour through the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung customs point has been on the rise recently according to government data.
As a result, the government collected Rs604.6 million in customs revenue from the trading point in the first two months of the current fiscal year.
Most of the imports are goods that are in high demand during Dashain, such as readymade garments. Shirts, pants, innerwear, jackets, coats and footwear are the fastest selling items during the festive period and importers are bringing in such goods to meet the demand.
Rasuwagadhi Customs Chief Kedar Paneru said these imported goods were supplied to the market in Kathmandu Valley as well as other markets across the country during the festive period.
Other than readymade garments, electronic products and accessories are also among the top goods imported from China. Dharma Poudel, a trader said that around 1,300 containers loaded with such products have already entered the country in the first two months alone.
But just a few weeks ago, containers were stranded on the Chinese side after Chinese authorities noticed smuggling at the customs point and enforced stricter checks.
Following the incident, the government requested the Chinese side to ease the customs clearing process in order to meet the Dashain spike in demand.
With a rise in import, the customs office collected revenue worth Rs64.3 million in mid July-mid August which escalated to Rs485.8 million in the following month.
After the Chinese authority closed Tatopani customs point following the April 12 earthquake, Rasuwagadhi-Kerung customs point is the only land based trading point with the northern neighbour. Trade with China has started to expand since the Chinese government allowed trade to be conducted through the route since mid-November 2015.
Nepal imports goods such as apples, readymade garments, footwear, toys, herbs like jimbu, cosmetics and electronics through this border point. In return, Nepal exports flour, chilli, rice, noodles and fruit juice, among others.
Despite the boom in trade, poor infrastructure particularly on Nepal side has been a major hurdle for conducting trade through the border.
The Chinese side accorded top priority to upgrade the road to facilitate the movement of Nepali vehicles on highways in the bordering Tibetan Autonomous Region of China.
China is also planning to extend its Qinghai-Tibet railway to Kerung by 2020. However, on the Nepali side nothing has been done so far.