Commerce minister stresses boosting intra-regional trade

Kathmandu, October 16

Minister for Commerce Romi Gauchan Thakali has stressed on early enforcement of the Free Trade Area initiative of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) to spur growth of the regional economies through expansion of intra-regional trade.

Addressing the BIMSTEC Business Summit jointly organised by Ministry of External Affairs, India, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on the sidelines of BRICS and BIMSTEC Summit, in New Delhi, Minister Gauchan laid emphasis that boosting intra-regional trade and investment are critical for employment generation and inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the member nations.

“BIMSTEC member nations are endowed with natural and human resources and these should be harnessed through effective implementation of the BIMSTEC framework agreement that has envisaged mutual cooperation among member states in various fields to achieve regional prosperity,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce quoted Minister Gauchan as saying during the summit.

Further, the minister laid emphasis on smooth connectivity among nations so that trade and investment relations as envisaged by the framework agreement can materialise. Smooth connectivity of road, rail, air and ports are fundamentally important to reduce the cost of trade, as per Minister Gauchan. “Lack of smooth connectivity has been hindering expansion of trade relation among BIMSTEC member nations.”

Minister Gauchan also held a meeting with State Minister for Commerce and Industry (independent charge) of India Nirmala Sitharaman. During the meeting, various issues of bilateral trade, transit and trade facilitation were discussed, as per statement.

After addressing the BIMSTEC Business Summit in New Delhi, Minister Gauchan left for Dhaka in Bangladesh to participate in the ninth South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) that kicked off from today. Addressing the SAES gathering, Minister Gauchan urged strong cooperation among SAARC countries to cope with the emerging challenges of climate change that are posing a threat to the target to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable and inclusive development of the region.

He also highlighted the importance of intensifying trade and investment relations among SAARC countries and the need for common infrastructure and proper enforcement of the regional agreements to deepen regional integration. On the sidelines of SAES, Commerce Minister Gauchan met with his Bangladeshi counterpart Tofael Ahmed and held discussions on bilateral trade promotion.

Nepal and Bangladesh agreed to provide preferential market access to 50 and 108 goods, respectively, to each other’s countries during commerce secretary-level talks held in May and Minister Gauchan during the meeting with his counterpart urged for implementation of the agreement as soon as possible.

Both commerce ministers also emphasised on the early implementation of the Bangladesh Bhutan India and Nepal (BBIN) motor

vehicle agreement and also discussed on facilitating visa related provisions for the citizens of each other’s countries to promote

tourism as well.