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Nepal fails to reap expected benefits from international trade: Minister Bhandari

B360
B360 April 23, 2024, 5:05 pm
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KATHMANDU: Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Damodar Bhandari, has stated that Nepal has not reaped the expected benefits from international trade, despite being a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for 20 years. 

Speaking at a programme titled 'Nepal's 20 years in WTO: Expectations, Achievements and Way Forward', organised by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies on Tuesday, Minister Bhandari said, "Despite some exceptions, least developed countries have not been able to secure anticipated benefits from the WTO, which aims to ensure the benefits of the world economy to developing countries and increase their market access."

He emphasised the need to ensure meaningful participation of government, private sector, related research institutes and concerned stakeholders in signing a bilateral trade and investment agreement with nations that have potential for exports from Nepal. 

He suggested that Nepal should strive to explore the potential for international trade and implement objective and country-specific export strategies. 

He also highlighted the need for broader dialogues and discussions involving public-private sectors to pave the way for awareness in industrial and trade sectors.

According to the Minister, there is a wider discussion at the national level when expected achievements from the WTO remain unmet. "We accept the WTO standards, but in the context of Nepal, such standards have not been implemented. We are overwhelmed by the burden of import trade. We need to liberate ourselves from this situation," he said, suggesting that "Nepal's lack of presence in world trade should be analysed meticulously."

Acknowledging Nepal's weak presence in world trade, Commerce Secretary Dinesh Kumar Ghimire called for policy-level and strategic interventions to address this. He stressed the need to increase domestic production. 

Industry Secretary Krishna Bahadur Raut said Nepal could not secure the right benefits of WTO, while other speakers, including the Chairperson of Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries, Umesh Prasad Singh; Vice Chair of Federation Of Export Entrepreneurs Nepal (FEEN) and Ministry Joint Secretary Leela Prasad Sharma, expressed concerns over the country's increasing size of imports, leading to a ballooning trade deficit due to Nepal's lack of access to the world trade market.  

They called for a shift away from import-based trade.

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MAY 2024

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