Medical equipment purchased by Nepal to fight Covid-19 pandemic has been stalled in the Chinese port city of Guangzhou for over three weeks due to China’s stringent clearing measures.
Starting April 10, China adopted a procedure of giving export clearance certificate to health-related items only after individually labeling each item. This has delayed exports, stalling Nepal's 48 tons of crucial medical material to fight the corona pandemic.
The Nepal Army had made the purchase following a cabinet decision on a government-to-government (G2G) purchase of the medical material.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Army Attaché at the Nepali Embassy in Beijing, and the Chief of Army Staff Purna Chandra Thapa have separately written to Chinese authorities to grant the medical goods customs clearance as soon as possible. The Chinese side has not responded.
The Nepal Army had on April 29 purchased 342 tons of medical material from China Sino Firm International Corporation. Of this, 30 tons have left for Nepal via road and is expected to arrive in Kathmandu in around a week. The present delay is over air transport of another 48 tons, and the remaining materials are to be transported to Nepal on a phase-wise basis.
“We have a Nepal Airlines aircraft at the ready to bring in the material as soon as the Chinese side gives us its clearance,” says Army Spokesperson Bigyan Dev Pandey.
On part of the army, it has completed all necessary import procedures, according to Pandey. There is no other legitimate reason for the delay, Pandey adds.
The Nepal Army has already made an advance payment of US $18.44 million to the Chinese company against the purchase. Nepal’s Flax Freight Logistics is assigned for its import.
Earlier, the government of Nepal had signed a medical equipment import agreement with the notorious Omni Group. The agreement was later nullified after the group was found to be grossly inflating the costs of imports. The task was entrusted to the Nepal Army by a March 29 cabinet decision.
The army had immediately sprung into action and written to the governments of China, India, South Korea, Israel, and Singapore for the G2G purchase. It had then chosen China and India for the supply of medical equipment and medicines.