Kathmandu, November 9
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has urged for large scale investment in infrastructure development of the country to develop Nepal as a transit corridor for regional trade.
Addressing the one-day seminar on ‘Trans-Himalayan Cooperation Beyond Trilateral Discourses’ which was jointly organised by The Development Institute (TDI) and Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA), today, Dahal said that priority should be given to the construction of multi-lane highways, railways and other infrastructure connecting India and China so that Nepal can serve as an important transit corridor.
“A huge amount of capital needs to be injected to build such infrastructure. Countries in the trans-Himalayan area, especially India and China, can cooperate to invest in such infrastructure projects,” Dahal said.
Informing that connectivity lies at the heart of trans-Himalayan cooperation, PM Dahal opined that collective effort to develop trans-Himalayan infrastructure would open unprecedented opportunities of economic prosperity in the trans-Himalayan region.
“The Himalayas are no longer barriers. Instead, they can serve Nepal as important bridges to connect two emerging economic giants of the north and the south,” added Dahal.
Furthermore, Dahal stated that today’s discussion would help policymakers highlight and appreciate the importance of greater trans-Himalayan cooperation for Nepal and neighbouring South Asian countries.
Informing that the bilateral trade between India and China had reached $83 billion in 2015 and China has become one of India’s largest trading partner, TDI Chairman Bharat Mohan Adhikari said that connectivity through Nepal will facilitate potential trade between the two nations.
“If we are able to tap into a small per cent of this trade volume by developing effective connectivity, Nepal can benefit a lot,” Adhikari said.
An enhanced trilateral relationship between Nepal, India and China, according to Adhikari, will not only benefit the three countries, it will also open a new arena to the entire South Asian region. However, he said that a detailed discussion on connectivity for trilateral economic cooperation is required at the civil society level followed by effective initiative from the government.
Former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat said that global and regional prosperity is possible only through interconnection of markets, and thus, markets of trans-Himalayan region should be interconnected through timely development of connectivity and other infrastructure. As per Mahat, Nepal should make an effort to develop itself as a vibrant tourism hub in South Asia by promoting the country’s tourism, agro industry and other diversities.
On the occasion, Prof Dai Yonghang of Sichuan University said that Nepal can play a decisive role in bridging India and China to ensure mutual benefit for all three nations.
Executive Director of The Development Institute Lekhnath Paudel highlighted the prospect of trans-Himalayan cooperation and stated that it would help promote development and reduce poverty in countries across the Himalayas.
While presenting his paper, Nihar Nayak, research fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, India, said the Indian government was still suspicious about the idea of trilateral cooperation and it still wanted to maintain ‘status-quo’.
A version of this article appears in print on November 10, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.