Government plans to soon ratify WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Kathmandu, September 29

Minister for Commerce Romi Gauchan Thakali has said that the government will soon ratify the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

He said this at a function held here today by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) to disseminate the findings of ‘Trade and Transport Facilitation Audit in South Asia’.

In December 2013, World Trade Organisation (WTO) members concluded negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference. As a Member of WTO, Nepal was obligated to ratify the document.

Gauchan also said that seamless trade in South Asia region is important for unleashing the potential of trade for poverty reduction. He said that poor connectivity and trade facilitation have affected regional trade. “It is because of this that in spite of the SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) being in force since 2006, regional trade is not encouraging in South Asia.”

Speaking during the inaugural ceremony, President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Suraj Vaidya said that the commitments made by South Asian governments look promising, but it is the private sector that has been trying to move ahead. He complained that governments’ responses were not very encouraging and this was further hampered by issues that come up from time to time, like the recent postponement of the 19th SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad.

Similarly, L Savithri, director for Trade, Finance and Economics at the SAARC Secretariat, was of the view that business should take precedence over politics and that the business community in SAARC countries can push for greater regional cooperation in South Asia.

Posh Raj Pandey, chairman of SAWTEE, said that this research has contributed in identifying trade- and transport-related bottlenecks in the region and in getting clarity on the required investment to adopt considerable trade facilitation measures.

The government, private sector, media, academics and various other stakeholders from Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will further engage in meetings tomorrow.

Country-wise presentations for all the eight SAARC countries will be held during the meeting, according to SAWTEE.