Strategic plan to enhance trade in the offing

Kathmandu, January 16

With an aim to enhance the contribution of the commerce sector to the economy or gross domestic product (GDP) of the country, the government is introducing a 10-year longterm strategic plan to enhance the country’s commerce sector.

For the purpose, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) has sought consultancy services to draft the 2020-30 strategic plan and has released the terms of reference (ToR) of the plan.

Motilal Dugad, state minster for MoICS, informed that the ministry will soon publish the notice for the consultancy service. “At present, we have released the terms of reference, which will help anyone interested to formulate a plan.”

He further emphasised that the strategic plan is needed to increase the contribution of exports to the GDP, which has been gradually declining.

“Contribution of exports to the GDP stood at 7.3 per cent in fiscal 2007-08, which dropped to 2.8 per cent in 2018-19,” he informed.

In the past few years, Nepal has witnessed a continuous increase in merchandise trade with sluggish export growth and surge in imports causing trade deficit to balloon.

“The government’s major concern is to overcome the escalating trade imbalances with trading partners,” said Dugad.

As per the ToR document, the purpose to frame the strategic plan is to incorporate all the efforts of reform and enhancement programmes of the MoICS in framework and support trade facilitations while ensuring legitimate trade flows without distorting the economy. The consultancies will also have to provide support in designing MoICS’s annual plan and action, and provide guidance in allocation of time schedule and financial resources from the government and development partners.

Moreover, the firms will have to support in seeking political support at higher level in efforts of trade management through mainstreaming trade to national economic policy and ensuring proper supply and distribution of merchandises and services, provide proper and accurate information to determine the critical and prioritised programme areas and communicate to the development partners with a view to achieving sustainable development and reforms without any overlapped efforts.

As per the ministry, the plan has objectives to introduce right models to enhance trade competitiveness of the country, increase contributions of trade to GDP, employment and earnings and provide world-class trade-related services to the citizens.

The consultancy will have to review the trade performance, and assess institutional framework, trade facilitation and infrastructure. It will also have to analyse existing commercial diplomacy mechanisms, review market access conditions and constraints, and also assess and review resources availability.

Moreover, the firm will have to assess overall trade and investment environment, review private participation and contribution. It will also have to assess and review research, development and promotion activities.

The firm will also have to identify the most pragmatic implementation mechanism of the strategic plan. The report must be submitted to the government within 150 days.