Kathmandu, April 13
Nepal should focus on bringing in investment from the United States to enhance production base so that the country can better utilise the trade preferences provided by the world’s largest economy, say stakeholders.
Speakers at an interaction programme on ‘Private Sector Agenda under Trade and Investment Framework Agreement’ organised by the Nepal-USA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, here today, said the TIFA council meeting should be a means to further enhance the trade and investment relation between the two countries.
In the context of the third round of TIFA council meeting that is scheduled for April 20 in the Capital, the bi-national chamber today discussed on how the country can reap benefits from the single country trade preferences extended by the US under the Nepal Trade Preferences Act.
Speaking in the programme, Commerce Secretary Naindra Prasad Upadhyay highlighted the initiatives taken by the government to build a conducive environment for investment in the country through a raft of reforms on the legal and administrative fronts. Reform in the foreign investment regime by amending the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act will address obstacles to foreign investment in Nepal, he said.
“The regular meeting of TIFA council since last year between Nepal and the US will convey a positive message to American investors to come to Nepal,” Upadhyay stated. He expressed hope that exports to the United States market will rise as the Trade Preferences Act has granted zero tariff facility for 66 Nepali items for the next 10 years.
Also speaking in the inaugural session of the interaction programme, Kiran Sakha, president of Nepal-USA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the primary agenda of the government and private sector should be to economise the cost of production to maximise production and better utilise the export facility in the US market.
Though 50 per cent of the US tariff lines are duty-free for Nepal under the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility, the country has not been utilising the facility properly. Sakha opined that foreign direct investment is crucial for the sustainability of the country’s production base. FDI will provide an opportunity to small and medium businesses to grow linking them to the value chain of large scale industries, generating employment, transferring technology, enhancing production base and contributing to export led growth in the future, he said.
Private sector representatives have urged the government to utilise the technical support offered by the Trade Preferences Act in capacity building of the government, policy reforms and also for the capacity enhancement of the production sector.
The forthcoming TIFA meeting will also discuss the areas to mobilise technical support of the US in trade capacity enhancement.
A version of this article appears in print on April 14, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.