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Exporters urged to diversify as per market trends

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Although almost one and a half years have passed since the enforcement of the Trade Preference Programme, Nepali exporters are still in a dilemma over the facilities being provided under the programme

Oct 11, 2017-Experts have urged Nepali exporters to diversify their business as per trends in foreign markets in order to reap the maximum benefit. 

Speaking at a workshop entitled Enhancing Nepal-US Trade by Utilizing the Trade Preference Programme on Tuesday, they said that promotion of outcomes from small and medium enterprises, focus on research and development and improvement in linkages in the local market could help generate long-term business abroad. 

The conference was jointly organised by the US Embassy in Kathmandu and the Pavilion Group, an institute working in trade related areas. 

The experts also encouraged Nepali entrepreneurs to invest in goods that have been accorded preferential treatment under the Trade Preference Programme by the US government. 

Under the programme that has targeted facilitating Nepali exports to the US, the US government has been offering duty free access to 77 tariff lines since February 2016. Nepali products under nine headings are eligible to receive the facility that will last through 2025. 

They include products in five subheadings in luggage and attaché cases, 10 subheadings in handbags, four subheadings in pocket goods, nine subheadings in travel bags, 13 subheadings in carpets, seven subheadings in shawls, scarves and travel blankets, 13 subgroups in hats, two in gloves and three subheadings in miscellaneous articles including headbands and needlecraft kits. 

These products which previously used to be subject to tariffs ranging from 5 percent to over 20 percent can now enter the US market at zero tariff. Exporters of a number of Nepali products, in particular, garments, have expressed dissatisfaction at the facility provided by the US. 

Speaking at the programme, Minister of Industry Sunil Bahadur Thapa said that Nepali exporters should focus on alternative goods instead of traditional products. “Entrepreneurs should come out of the comfort zone and look for markets for alternative products,” he said.

After India, the US is the largest market for Nepali products in terms of export earnings. As per the US Embassy, Nepal is currently America’s 157th largest goods trading partner with $129 million in total bilateral trade during 2016. 

Nepal exported products worth $89 million to the US last year. The largest exports were woolen carpets and textile coverings, woven apparels, miscellaneous textile articles, knit apparels and animal feed.

US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz said Nepal should focus on enhancing exports for the overall economic development of the country. “While Nepali entrepreneurs should grab the opportunity to reach out to the US market, the government needs to facilitate these entrepreneurs by effective implementation of legislative measures to minimise their risk,” Teplitz said. 

The US envoy stressed branding of Nepali products under the tag of ‘Made in Nepal’ in order to boost the market for export items. Promotion of agro based products, assurance of intellectual property rights and facilitation of electronic payment system are among the priorities identified by the US envoy. 

Although almost one and a half years have passed since the enforcement of the Trade Preference Programme, Nepali exporters are still in a dilemma over the facilities being provided under the programme. Due to this reason, entrepreneurs are reluctant to invest in the production of items that have been provided duty free access. 

Kevin C Price, economic and commercial officer at the US Embassy, said Nepali exporters need to identify suitable markets in the US in order to expand their business there. “Traders must look forward to cashing in on various segments in the US market ranging from small retail shops to large departmental stores, emerging diasporas of Nepali society or entrepreneurs in the US aspiring to invest in new areas,” he added. 

Published: 11-10-2017 08:32

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