FM urges preferential market access for goods

Kathmandu, June 12:

Finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat today requested the Chinese government to provide preferential market access in China for more Nepali products in order to compensate for Nepal’s huge trade deficit.

Inaugurating the 9th meeting of Nepal China Non-Governmental Cooperation Forum (NCNGCF) on Tuesday, Dr Mahat said expanding ties with China through any means including trade, tourism and investment, is in the interest of Nepal. “However, we cannot compete with China’s vibrant and fast growing economy, unless we are provided with preferential treatment,” he said.

Founded in 1996 as per the agreement between the two governments of China and Nepal, the Forum is involved in the promotion of bilateral trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people level ties at the non-governmental level.

The Forum is represented by the apex body of the private sector, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) from Nepal and the All China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) from China. The two-day meeting hosted by FNCCI is expected to make a series of deliberations on the theme of ‘prosperity through investment and tourism’.

With poor infrastructure and manufacturing base, Nepali products are obviously less competitive compared to Chinese goods, he said, adding that with the preferential market access Nepali exports could at least gain momentum. Stating that Nepal has very investment friendly policies and atmosphere that has hugely improved in recent months, Dr Mahat stated that Nepal welcomes Chinese capital, expertise and entrepreneurship in all potential areas. “Market for Nepali goods or services is not a big deal now, as it has preferential market access in South Asia under SAFTA,” he added.

He further said that Nepal, as an LDC, also enjoys preferential market access to European Union and the USA under generalised preference system (GSP).

“Chinese entrepreneurs can set up their manufacturing units in Nepal and export their products to these markets,” he said. Zhang Longzhi, vice-chairman of ACFIC and leader of the Chinese delegation, at the meeting urged that Nepal should make specific policies, abiding to WTO norms to attract more Chinese investment and entrepreneurs to Nepal. Stating the fact that bilateral trade volume in the first quarter of this year has gone up by 47 per cent, Zhang admitted that trade balance is still in favour of China. “Adhering to Chinese government’s ‘going global’ strategy on trade and investment, more and more Chinese entrepreneurs are exploring opportunities worldwide,” he added.

Zheng Xianglin, Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Kush Narayan Shrestha, charge de affaires, Nepali embassy in Beijing and Kush Kumar Joshi, second vice-president of FNCCI and coordinator of the Forum also expressed their views on the occasion.