Nepal, China to ink deal on OBOR today

May 12, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, 12th May 2017, Kathmandu

Nepal and China are set to sign a framework agreement on China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative on Friday, days ahead of a summit in Beijing where it plans to showcase its ambitious plan to build a modern-day Silk Road trade routes and lead a new era of globalisation. 

A decision to sign the framework agreement on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship initiative investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe was taken by a Cabinet meeting on Monday after months of confusion and extended negotiations. 

Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and Chinese Ambassador Yu Hong will sign the framework agreement on behalf of their respective governments on Friday, a government official told the Post. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara and two other Cabinet ministers, along with other government officials, are set to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled for May 14-15 in Beijing. The core components of the OBOR framework agreement are infrastructure (rail, road), investment, trade, commerce, using Chinese and other ports, currency arrangements, financial institutions and others, according to Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat who will oversee the signing ceremony between Bairagi and Yu on Friday. 

The OBOR Initiative was unveiled by Chinese President Xi in 2013. Nepal had agreed, in principle, to become part of the initiative in 2014. 

China the following year had sent a proposal to Nepal seeking its participation in OBOR, after which negotiations had started.  

Leaders from 28 nations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are also attending the two-day meeting at Yanqi Lake, located in a Beijing suburb near the Great Wall, the AFP reported. “There is a pressing need in today’s world to have a shared, open and inclusive cooperation platform... to jointly tackle global challenges,” the AFP quoted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as telling reporters in Beijing ahead of the summit. “What we need is not a hero that acts alone, but partners of cooperation that stick together.” 

What is Belt and Road Initiative?

-    Proposed in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the ambitious initiative aims to promote a vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment


-    China has earmarked $40 billion for a special fund for the scheme, on top of the $100b capitalisation for the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, many of whose projects will likely be part of it

-    The China Development Bank alone has earmarked $890 billion for some 900 projects

-    The project spans some 65 countries representing 60 percent of the global population (4.4 billion) and around a third of global GDP which comes to the tune of $21 trillion