Officials of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) and EU Ambassador to Nepal Nona Deprez discussed bilateral relations and trade promotion on Wednesday.

During the discussion, CNI President Satish Kumar More requested the ambassador to assist Nepal in getting off the air safety list of EU. The recovery of Nepali tourism has been affected as EU has listed Nepal under its air safety list.

He further requested the ambassador for assistance in attracting tourists to Nepal from Europe as Nepal's aviation sector has been paying special attention to security and made significant improvements in the recent days.

Stating that the confederation expects technical assistance from the European Union, CNI President More said that the ban on Nepali aviation citing security reasons should be lifted.

As per the statement issued today, CNI President More also requested EU Ambassador Deprez to help in increasing exports to Europe with trade agreements similar to that with India which allows duty-free trade between the two countries.

Underscoring the importance of skill development to increase productivity, he requested for help from the EU in enhancing technical skills of human resources in the country.

Moreover, the CNI president said the country's trade deficit was widening due to increasing consumption and lack of strong production base. With this in mind, the confederation informed EU Ambassador Deprez that it has launched the 'Make in Nepal-Swadeshi' campaign.

During the meeting, Senior Economic Adviser of the CNI Bishwa Poudel pointed out that Nepal's trade with the European countries could decline by as much as 10 per cent once trade facilities provided by the European Union are automatically removed after Nepal graduates from the league of least developed countries, adding that the country's consumption was increasing solely due to remittance income.

He said that the confederation would continue to regularly publish the industrial survey in lack of industrial surveys in the country. Stating that the CNI has been collaborating with the government and focusing on promoting manufacturing industries, he said that the confederation is pushing for import substitution of goods related to at least eight industries, including agriculture.

Nirvana Chaudhary, vice-president of the CNI, informed that the confederation is going to form the Union of Asian Chambers as a common platform for the chambers of many countries and will request the members to coordinate with the European chambers for possible trade agreements.

Referring to the European Union's assistance to the Nepal government in various fields, Ambassador Deprez said that the EU is willing to assist the government in policy making in the trade sector. She also highlighted the role of the private sector in reducing carbon emissions by promoting green technology, developing technologies and adopting environmental standards to reduce the impact of human activities on environment.

EU Ambassador Deprez stressed on the need for a more proactive investment regulatory body to create a conducive environment in the country. She also said that she will take the initiative to help Nepal in exporting goods to the EU countries, in the promotion of tourism and in solving the problems related to the aviation sector as well.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 9, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.