Corporate must brace up

Kathmandu, September 8:

Despite Nepal having already become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the private sector here does not seem capable enough to compete in the global market, as the industry’s present cost of capital is high. Private sector players, who continuously urge the government to make the private sector more competitive are themselves not serious enough in improving corporate culture, opined experts today.

Experts at a programme on ‘non-agricultural market access’ organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) stressed that at the forthcoming WTO meeting in Hong Kong, a least developed country like Nepal has to be sufficiently prepared to negotiate tariff reduction, preferential treatment and non-tariff barriers. Narendra Basnyat, acting president of CNI, said that the time has come to make our Nepali corporate sector more competitive to utilise the global markets, for which we need to improve our capacity for producing high-quality products. Basnyat said that unless the private sector is able to generate market-oriented, high-quality and cost-effective goods and services, neither would it not be in a position to cope with the emerging market challenges in the domestic front nor will it be able to access global markets.

Basnyat stressed upon the need for forward-looking fiscal and monetary policies to reflect global changes. He also urged the government to allow the Nepali corporate sector to make investments abroad in order to acquire the necessary expertise and resources to become more competitive.

According to him, the cost of electricity for industrial use is one of the highest in Asia which needs to be corrected and reduced to a workable level. Sri Ram Pandey, assistant resident representative of UNDP, said that Nepal has to fight for tariff reduction, flexible rules and regulations, identification of non-tariff barriers with developed nations while attending the forthcoming WTO meeting.

Pandey opined that private sector has to play a crucial role and identify problems to be competitive in the contest of post-WTO membership. What support is needed from international community needs to be worked out by the private sector itself, said Pandey. Navin Dahal, executive director of SAWTEE, presented a paper on non-agricultural market access negotiations in the WTO: Nepalese perspective. While presenting the paper, Dahal said that tariff rates on non-agricultural goods are much higher in developing countries as compared to developed countries. Therefore, he added, the affect of tariff reduction will be much more severe on developing countries than the developed countries. Dahal said that LDCs need to substantially increase their tariff binding coverage. Support for LDCs for low tariff bindings are needed along with effective technical assistance from developed and developing members to enhance institutional and human resources to implement WTO agreements, said Dahal.