Garment sector cries for support, urges lobbying

KATHMANDU: One of the most promising export sectors — the garment industry that was the highest contributor of foreign currency — now needs strong lobbying in the international market.

Speaking at a press meet, Nepal’s ambassador to the US Dr Shanker Sharma said that the US has a total GDP of $13 trillion in which its import stands at $3 trillion. “Therefore, it is not such a big deal for it to grant duty free access to Nepali readymade garments. The RMG sector requires lobbying,” he said.

According to Sharma, Non Resident Nepalese (NRNs) and businessmen should concentrate on sustainable trade investments that can create benefits for Nepal. The most exportable products to the US are garments, carpets, pashmina and handicrafts. For their sustainable export there must be continuous lobbying, said Sharma. He added it is his target to lobby for Nepali RMG during his stay in the US. Sharma is scheduled to leave for the US in November. “We need to promote our achievements in the international market and mitigate negative information there,” he said.

With the end of the Multi Fiber Agreement (MFA) along with quota phase-out, Nepali RMG is observing a great decline in the US market. The Nepali RMG industry is now seeking preferential treatment abroad to reform the industry as a whole. The industry is in need of quick relief for its existence domestically. Garment Association Nepal (GAN) has been urging for a stable and flexible labour policy.

Before the end of Multi Fiber Agreement, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) benefited

with some duty free access

for the exporters.

However, as per the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) member countries agreed to eliminate quotas applied on trade and textiles. Garment and carpet industries that contributed about 25 per cent to the total GDP, have fallen behind. At least 80 per cent of

the export to the US earlier

comprised Nepali garments

but now RMG export to the

US is around zero.

There has been as high as an 84 percent decline in garment exports to the US after the

quota system was phased out, according to GAN. Amongst the major export commodities to other countries, according to the first month’s comparative data for fiscal year 2008-09 the RMG export has declined by -37 per cent in 2009-10.

During the fiscal year 2007-08 the total garment exported

was worth Rs 445.8 million, in 2008-09 it was worth Rs 428.1 million and it was worth Rs 269.9 million in the first month of the present fiscal year.