5th US-Nepal Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council Meeting held virtually

KATHMANDU: The United States-Nepal Council on Trade and Investment, under the United States-Nepal Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), held its fifth meeting virtually on December 15, 2020 to promote expanded bilateral trade and investment in both goods and services.

The meeting co-chaired by Christopher Wilson, Assistant United States Trade Representative for South and Central Asia, and Baikuntha Aryal, Secretary of Commerce and Supplies, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies included officials from trade, finance, labor, and other regulatory agencies in both delegations.

During the meeting, representatives discussed a range of bilateral trade and investment-related issues covered under the TIFA, including, among others, customs and trade facilitation, intellectual property, digital trade and e-commerce, labor, financial services, investment promotion, trade in agriculture products, and utilization of the Nepal Trade Preference Program.

According to the joint statement, the US affirmed its engagement with Nepal on its efforts to foster innovation and investment through improvements in intellectual property protection and enforcement. Meanwhile, Nepal provided an update on its initiatives to increase intellectual property protection through legislative changes.

Recognizing the important role of digital trade in fostering economic growth, Nepal and the US agreed to explore ways to deepen engagement on policy developments affecting the digital economy.

The US in the meeting welcomed Nepal’s efforts to promote internationally recognized worker rights and the implementation of Nepal’s labor laws. Nepal affirmed the importance it attaches to worker rights and both countries agreed to engage in constructive discussions on these issues.

Likewise, US also welcomed confirmation that there is no restriction on the import of US pork and poultry in Nepali market, and Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) Nepal recognizes the food certificates of the National Competent Authority of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Both countries agreed to remain engaged on market access issues of mutual interest.

Nepal and US discussed the importance of fully utilizing US preferential trade benefits for select products from Nepal, available through December 31, 2025 as a result of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. Taking note of Nepal’s interest in expanding utilization of the trade preference program and reviewing Nepal’s concept note, the US expressed willingness to provide further technical assistance to Nepal to increase trade and investment.

Nepal also provided an update on recent investment policy reform initiatives taken to improve its investment climate, and emphasized its interest in attracting additional foreign investment from the US. The US took note of this interest and suggested ways in which Nepal could further enhance the business climate to attract investment.

Both governments pledged their commitment to deepen their engagement in these issue areas over the coming months in intersessional meetings and to hold the 6th TIFA Council Meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal as soon as travel conditions permit.

The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Nepal (TIFA) entered into force on April 15, 2011 with an objectives of the agreement include the expansion of trade, investment and technical cooperation, and strengthening economic relations between the two countries.

Nepal and the United States had $213.4 million in total (two-way) goods trade during 2019, a 38 percent increase compared to 2018.