Oped

Consolidating bilateral ties

  • Oli’s visit to Vietnam and Cambodia paves the way for enhanced cooperation.
- SHANKER MAN SINGH, Kathmandu

May 13, 2019-

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is on a visit to Vietnam and Cambodia at the invitation of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguy n Xuân Phúc and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Nepal has many things to learn from Vietnam’s rapid economic growth over the past 30 years following several wars. Nepal and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in 1975. This is the starting point of our relationship and cooperation. There is a growing need to prioritise such discussions so as to further consolidate the economic and trade ties between the two countries.

While addressing a meeting of the Viet Nam-Nepal Business Forum Hanoi, Prime Minister Oli said, “We have been incessantly pursuing for making Nepal a prominent investment and business destination. Political stability has ensured policy stability and consistency. We have created an investment-friendly environment through the enactment of necessary laws and announcement of a series of policy measures. Protection of foreign investment is guaranteed by law. Laws and rules pertaining to land acquisition, company registration, environment assessment and infrastructure development have been simplified and relaxed.”

Enhancing trade

Business will not happen only because of goodwill or relationships. It will occur only if it makes business sense. Realising the importance of investment and trade, the two sides should agree that enhancing trade between Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia is a priority for all three countries. During Oli’s visit, both sides welcomed the practical commemorative activities to be held in 2020 to mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The visit, a key milestone in their relations, will pave the way for a new stage and an enhanced level of cooperation in tourism, trade, investment and people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

It must be recalled that Prime Minister Oli met with Prime Minister Nguyen and discussed various matters regarding Nepal-Vietnam relations on the sidelines of the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. They underscored the need to enhance economic engagement in the areas of trade, investment, connectivity and tourism as well as the necessity to exchange high-level visits between the two countries. During the visit to Vietnam, the two leaders agreed to enhance mutual visits and exchanges at all levels—between political parties, governments, legislative institutions, local bodies and peoples.

The Nepal side has time and again requested Vietnam to ease the visa process and consider increased in investment in Nepal’s agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, infrastructure and information technology, among others. This should be the focus of discussion during the high level visit. A little more than 7,000 Vietnamese tourists travelled to Nepal in 2017, most of them choosing spiritual tourism and eco-tourism. There is an urgent need to encourage travel and tour operators in Vietnam to cooperate with Nepali travel and tour operators to encourage Vietnamese people to visit Nepal, mainly Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha. Since the Nepal government has already decided to celebrate 2020 as Visit Nepal Tourism Year, the recent visit will contribute significantly to attracting more Buddhist pilgrims from Vietnam to Nepal as a majority of the people in Vietnam are Buddhists.

It is in this context that the two sides agreed to enhance exchange and cooperation in culture, tourism and people-to-people interaction. It has been noted the success of the Nepali tourism promotion program in Ho Chi Minh City in March 2019. The Vietnamese side expressed its support to Visit Nepal Year 2020 by sending more tourists to Nepal, including Buddhist pilgrims to Lumbini, the birth place of the Buddha. The memorandum of arrangement signed between the aeronautical authorities of Vietnam and Nepal in October 2015 underlined the need to establish direct air service and instructed the respective ministries to conclude an agreement on air services at the earliest to promote trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people contacts.

Trade between the two countries is increasing every year. The major exports from Nepal to Vietnam are meat and meat offal, plants and parts of plants, vegetable products and handicraft products. The major imports from Vietnam are electric equipment, machinery, coffee, tea, mate and spices, beverages, fish and food products. More and more Nepali businessmen are visiting Vietnam to explore importable products. Vietnamese businessmen are also visiting Nepal to invest and import local products.

Nepal is a country of the high Himalaya while there are lots of beautiful beaches and sea activities in Vietnam. There are potentials for the people of both countries to travel as tourists. Vietnamese people love to visit Nepal to see the mountains and participate in adventurous activities like trekking, rafting and jungle safari. Visitors to Nepal are always overwhelmed by its natural beauty and admire our hospitality, friendly behaviour and love.

Visit to Cambodia

Prime Minister Oli is visiting Cambodia at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen who visited Nepal during the Asia Pacific Summit held in Kathmandu last year. Nepal and Cambodia signed four agreements on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Summit 2018 that would enhance economic, diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries. It is noteworthy that the two countries also signed a new airline agreement recently. The new agreements are expected to expand the existing cooperation between the two countries in the field of commerce, investment and tourism. Tourism and investment promotion will top the agenda in bilateral talks in Cambodia. Mutual esteem, tolerance and perseverance from both countries are required to fulfil this objective.

Singh holds a Master’s degree from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi and the US.

Published: 13-05-2019 08:42

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