Govt set to recast 1996 trade treaty

Kathmandu, December 5:

In a month-and-a-half, the government will renegotiate the 1996 trade treaty to secure additional facilities. Speaking at a programme on the occasion of the second anniversary of Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC), Purushottam Ojha, Secretary at the Ministry for Commerce and Supplies said, “In one-and-a-half months, we will o renegotiate the 1996 treaty.”

India accounts for two-thirds of Nepal’s foreign trade absorbing nearly 70 per cent of Nepal’s total exports, up from less than 20 per cent in 1996. This itself attests to the usefulness of the India-Nepal bilateral trade treaty for Nepal, strengthening bilateral economic ties as an important instrument for Nepal’s economic development.

According to Ojha, traditional methods of trade promotion should be recast. Along with promotion of traditional products, there must be new product identification in the niche market. It is time to revise our trade sectors and government is working for that, he added.

Focusing on TEPC’s role, Ojha said right it is focused on trade fairs but it should also publish trade analysis reports for an exact picture of the trade sector.

Donors, ADB and multinational companies are losing interest, Ojha said adding it was time to build capacity so that the donor community gets interested in Nepal’s trade sector and the country doesn’t lag behind.

TEPC must work as a centre of excellence, Ojha said. “Being so, we can get updates about the market and the different strategies to be made for trade promotion. As the export sector is in its declining phase, it is necessary to create new avenues. We should shed traditional approach and strive to make TEPC a professional and research organization that would be able to evaluate trade promotion activities.”

Speaking on the occasion, TEPC acting director Dinesh Gupta said, “We will be moving forward according to the direction given by the government and suggestions from the private sector.”

According to Gupta, TEPC has started the HS code method for data collection and publication from this fiscal year, which will be helpful in explaining foreign business data. It

has also started collecting statistics of trade between Nepal and India. He added, “The state is expecting high development of trade but we have different problems. We are suffering great trade deficit of 32 per cent during the fiscal year 2007-08.”

Due to increased competition in export business, the need for competitive age product promotion with economy pricing has grown. “The ministry is always there to help the trade sector. We are also trying to establish display centres in different countries where major products can kept for display including presentations on different tourist destinations. EU is quite positive about it,” said Ojha.