Kyirong Border Crossing Set to be the New Sino-Nepal Trade Hub
It has been almost a year since the border checkpoint at Gyirong Port opened for international traffic. And it was not just to allow tourists into the region, but to allow more trade and commerce between Nepal and China to further the Sino-Nepali relationship.
In the latter part of 2017, from the opening of the border crossing, more than 104,000 tons of goods were shipped over the Resuo Bridge and the volume of traffic using the border crossing increased dramatically from January 2018. Gyirong Town, the first town in Tibet after the Gyirong Port border crossing checkpoint, has seen a booming trade this year.
From January to June, 2018, over seventy-five thousand tonnes of cargo was shipped across the border from China to Nepal alone. Compared to the same period in 2014, when trade was carried across the border at Zhangmu, this is an increase of more than 32 percent.
With a cargo value of more than 194 million US dollars being shipped across the border so far this year, the town of Gyirong is rapidly developing into a major transit port for Tibet Autonomous Region. This is a huge benefit to the people that live there.
Around 1,000 people in Gyirong County are licensed to carry out trade, and the former agricultural backwater is fast being transformed into a booming hub for cross-border trade. On a daily basis, more than 100 trucks can be seen lined up ready to take goods across the border to Nepal, returning with shipments of spices, medicines, and handicrafts.
For many of the families in the area, this has been a godsend in terms of employment. Mr. Lhapa, whose family lives in a small village outside Gyirong Township, used to survive by growing potatoes and barley, and barely made a decent living. Now, with his son driving trucks back and forth across the border for one of the county’s trading firms, they are making around 50,000 yuan every year.
One Nepalese that has been living in the county for the last fifteen years making a humble living selling handicrafts from Nepal now runs a small business importing Nepali goods, and brings home more than 200,000 yuan a year. It used to take the porters he hired two days to transport the goods he could sell across the border, increasing his overheads drastically. Now it takes just a few hours, and the costs are much lower.
By the end of 2017, 26 companies had set up to trade ac ross the border in Gyirong Port alone, with seven new customs agents added to cater to the huge increase in traffic. Gyirong is fast catching up with the former border trade port of Zhangmu, which catered to around 90 percent of the trade between Nepal and China at its peak.
Construction has already begun in Gyirong Port on the new 12,000 square meter market that is expected to cater to more than 100 individual traders and trade companies in the port. Many are currently working out of the backs of vans parked up in the flat ground on the northern side of the border.
And, while the trade in goods has increased over the past year, so has the number of tourists that are taking the overland route to Tibet from Nepal. One of the best options for traveling to Tibet, the Gyirong Port border crossing has once again opened up a major tourist route from Kathmandu to Lhasa.