Inland waterways to be considered ‘trade route’

Kathmandu, February 8

Nepal and India have agreed to declare inland waterways as ‘trade route’ in Nepal-India Trade Treaty.

The bilateral trade treaty review meeting between the commerce joint secretaries of Nepal and India, which concluded in Pokhara today, has agreed to identify inland waterways as trade route in the trade treaty, informed Ravi Shankar Saiju, joint secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS).

Similarly, Saiju also informed that the Indian authorities have been positive towards the re-export of goods from Nepal to India and vice-versa.  “They have expressed the commitment to raise this issue with the Indian government and introduce re-export provision,” he informed.

If this provision is introduced, Nepal can import goods from third countries via agencies of different multinational companies located in India. Importing goods from Indian agencies of global brands will be crucial in reducing the transportation cost for Nepali importers.

Likewise, the trade treaty review meeting was also positive on addressing Nepal’s agenda to drop the zero-tariff facility on Indian agricultural goods and some other primary products. According to Saiju, Indian authorities have sought

details from Nepal on the call to levy customs tariff on such products.

Citing that the increasing import of Indian goods, especially agricultural products that are enjoying zero-tariff facility has been increasing Nepal’s trade deficit with India and also affecting the market for Nepali goods, MoICS had tabled the aforementioned agenda at the meeting. However, the government is of the view that the Indian authority should give continuity to the zero-tariff export facility for previously listed Nepali products in Indian market.

Ending the zero-tariff facility for Indian agricultural goods and some other primary products is expected to be crucial to reduce the trade deficit gap between the two countries, which has been continuously rising every year.

Nepal and India had agreed to review the trade treaty along with the transit treaty and Railway Service Agreement between the two countries in April last year. The trade treaty was renewed in October 2016 without any changes to the 2009 treaty.