Nepal yet to reap WTO membership benefits

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 22:

Following the completion of one year as a member of global trade body, experts here today said that Nepal needs to much more to reap benefits of the membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Prachanda Man Shrestha, joint secretary at the ministry of industry, commerce and supplies (MoICS) speaking at a press meet organised by the ministry

highlighted the issues taken up by the government in the areas of institutional capacity strengthening, policy reform activities, infrastructure development, technical assistance mobilisation, capacity building aspect and awareness creation. Shrestha said that efforts in policy reforms like tariff reduction on vehicles, information technology projects, enactment of copy rights acts, bank and financial ordinance, amendment on export-import act, laws relating to health and trade in services are going in full swing.

“Nepal as a WTO member, after one year, needs to workout a lot,” he said adding that various issues like institutional reform, operation of trade points, initiation to rationalise institutional structure, enhance institutional capacity of customs, copyrights and export financing mechanism are under process to take complete advantage from the global trade body. He said that diplomatic missions are trying to strengthen export sectors and sign more trade negotiations, which is considered as a progress in economic diplomacy. Similarly at a programme organised by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), joint secretary Shrestha presented a paper on ‘One year after WTO membership: Where do we stand’.

Prof Bishwambher Pyakuryal, president of Nepal Economic Association (NEA), on the occasion,

said that it has been difficult for Nepal to cope up with WTO challenges in relation to enhancing trade competitiveness without a preparation for export promotion regime as Nepali products do not have market access globally due to lack of capacity. He emphasised on extensive homework to expedite trade, reformed policy framework and legislative aspect. He said that there is a lack of professionals in our diplomatic missions abroad that has greatly hampered our trade advancement with global markets.

Pradeep K Shrestha, former president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) opined that lack of awareness on WTO and doubtful attitudes needs to be clarified. “The attitudes towards the private sector also needs to be changed, Shrestha said adding that the private sector should be competitive enough to exploit WTO potentials and cope up with forthcoming challenges. He said since the service sector is also being opened, it will face tough challenges. Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, member of National Planning Commission (NPC), Rajendra Khetan, vice-president of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), Dr Posh Raj Pandey president of SAWTEE also expressed their views on the occasion.