Sujata bid to expand trade with India

KATHMANDU: Nepal and India has excellent bilateral relations in political, economic, trade and cultural fields and Nepal, opined people at an interaction programme organised by Institute of Foreign Affairs on “Enhancement of Nepal - India Bilateral Trade, Commerce and other issues of National concern”. India accounts for more than 60 per cent of total trade said Sujata Koirala, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and called for joint and focused strategy to reverse the current situation that is due to the trade deficit.

“In terms of trade balance, Nepal suffers heavy trade deficit owing to hefty rise in imports and low volume and value of its exports. This scenario calls for urgent action to step up Nepal’s exports in order to promote a sustained regime of trade relationship between the two countries.”

Minister Koirala added that the government is keen to develop economic and trade relations with India. The two governments have already agreed to finalise a new Treaty of Trade that is expected to further boost bilateral trade and promote Nepal’s exports to India. “The new trade treaty that we are working on to finalise is expected to remove existing trade barriers and different regulations that have hindered healthy growth of bilateral trade,” she said.

Bilateral trade between Nepal and India was worth $2.28 billion during the fiscal year 2005-06. Nepal’s imports from India amounted to $1.65 billion and exports to India aggreagated $627.82 million, informed Rajesh K Agrawal, Confederation of Nepalese Industries’s national council member.

According to Agrawal, during the fiscal year 2006-07, Nepal’s total trade with India was worth about $2.46 billion, Nepal’s exports to India were worth about $645.71 million and imports from India were worth about $1.81 billion. While export to India increased by about 2.8 per cent, Nepal’s exports to the rest of the world declined by 0.9 per cent and its import from India grew by 9.9 per cent while imports from the rest of the world grew by 10.3 per cent.

Minister Koirala said that the stable and mutually beneficial treaty would attract external investments particularly Indian investments in Nepal’s development endeavours.

“We are keen to invite, promote and protect Indian investments in Nepal in the fields of infrastructure, transport network, information technology, industries, hydropower and even organic agricultural development. The government has recently undertaken an integrated national security policy

to give necessary protection to these investments. While the government

is prepared to accord all possible facilities, a concept of industrial security force is also being mooted to provide further security,” she said.