KATHMANDU: Relevant stakeholders said that the lack of harmonization between trade policy and relevant economic policies has rendered Nepal’s weak export performance which led to an increasing trade deficit.
They attributed the dismal status of Nepal’s export to unpredictable and costly trade rules, Non-tariff measures by importer countries, high dependence on limited destinations, and a weak supply base, among others.
Other participants voice concerns over tough tariff rules, weak trade infrastructure, weak negotiation skills, outdated provisions in various trade agreements, lack of special protection for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) insufficient incentives to exporters, and impractical bureaucratic processes for businesses.
Senior officials representing relevant bodies of the Nepal government, officials of representative organizations of the private sector, representatives of development partners, sectoral experts, and, other key stakeholders shared their views based on a draft report on trade policy harmonization.
The report was developed with the technical support of the International Trade Center (ITC) through the European Union-funded EU-Nepal Trade and Investment Program (TIP).
Speaking at a Public-Private Workshop on ‘Trade Policy Coherence and Harmonization in Nepal’ organized by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supply on Thursday, they stressed the necessity to undergo policy reform that ensures coherence between trade policy and other policies like Industrial Policy, Macro-Economic Policies, Foreign Direct Investment Policies, among others relevant policies.
The report has shed light on the existing gap between trade and relevant policies and offered useful recommendations for policy and institutional reforms. This draft has covered overall economic policy, foreign investment, industrial and commercial policies, and, strategies.
Study team members Dr. Ravi Ratnayake and Chandra Ghimire presented major highlights of the study and stated that Nepal needs to enhance trade capacities through legal, institutional, and incentive scheme for foreign direct investment, updating trade treaties, human resource development, and administrative reforms.
Statistics show that the contribution of exports to Nepal’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 was 2.6 percent, while the contribution of imports was 34 percent.
Chairing the program Joint Secretary at the MoICS, Govinda Bahadur Karkee said the inputs and comments from participants will be incorporated to finalize the report before the announcement of the upcoming budget. Karkee also said that the newly drafted Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS) is going to address major issues in Nepal’s trade sector.