Nepal has decided to become part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative and will sign a framework agreement on the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) programme this week, reflecting Beijing’s increasing clout in Kathmandu.
A cabinet meeting on Monday decided to sign the framework agreement on OBOR ahead of the Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing during May 14-15.
“Nepal has decided to sign an agreement on OBOR that will link Nepal to India and Europe,” information and communication minister Surendra Karki said after the meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.
A delegation led by deputy prime minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who also holds the finance portfolio, will participate in the Belt and Road Forum in China. He will be accompanied by two more ministers and senior officials.
Ahead of the conference, foreign secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and the Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Yu Hong, will sign the framework agreement on OBOR in the presence of foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat this week.
During the conference in Beijing, the Nepalese delegation will sign a separate memorandum of understanding on OBOR.
During his recent visit to China, Prachanda had assured the Chinese leadership that Nepal will become part of the Belt and Road Initiative ahead of the conference in Beijing. Following this, Nepalese and Chinese officials held negotiations on issues such as free trade, currency arrangement, financial institutions and investment.
After the framework agreement is inked, Nepal will negotiate with China on various intricacies of OBOR, including connectivity, trade regime and investment.
A signature initiative of President Xi Jinping, OBOR aims to enhance connectivity and cooperation between China and the rest of Asia and Europe through land and maritime routes. Beijing had sent a draft proposal on OBOR to Nepal late last year. After a month-long consultation, Nepal sent back a revised version of the draft to China.