US for holding TIFA meet in Nepal in Aug

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
US for holding TIFA meet in Nepal in Aug

Jun 25, 2014-

The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) has said that the US government has expressed interest to hold the second joint council meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in Nepal in August.

TIFA is a bilateral pact aimed at promoting trade and investment between the two countries. The meeting was originally scheduled to be held in 2012 and is two years overdue. The first conference of the TIFA Council was held on April 17, 2011 in Washington, DC two days after Nepal and US signed the agreement. “This time, the US has communicated its interest to hold the meeting in August,” said Jib Raj Koirala, joint secretary at the MoCS. “But we have not received any formal proposal.”

Earlier, the US had proposed holding a preparatory meeting from June 24-27 which was later postponed at its request. The MoCS has been writing to the US authorities repeatedly to hold the TIFA meeting on the date scheduled. The last time the ministry wrote to the US was three months ago.

Officials said that the meeting would discuss facilitating trade between the two countries and increasing US investment in Nepal.

Issues related to providing Generalised System of Preference facility to Nepali products and ensuring support to Nepali traders for conducting promotional activities in the US are expected to be on Nepal’s agenda during the talks, according to ministry officials.

Nepal can benefit to a large extent if it gets duty-free access in the US which is its second largest export market. The US is one of the few trading partners with which it has a trade surplus. Nepal has long been asking the US government to provide preferential treatment to 11 major exportable goods including pashmina and readymade garments. In recent years, export earnings from the US have been on a rising trend. Nepal exported goods worth Rs 4.39 billion to the US in 2010-11 which grew to Rs 5.55 billion in 2011-12. Similarly, exports to the US in  2012-13 were worth Rs 5.75 billion. Handicraft items, herbs, pashmina products and woollen carpets are Nepal’s major exports to the US.

Apart from promoting trade, TIFA is also expected to open up avenues for promoting US investment in Nepal. “Besides asking the US authorities for free market access, increasing American investment in Nepal will be our main topic for discussion,” said an official. However, the ministry is yet to fix the final agenda, he added.

The US has signed TIFAs with 42 countries including Nepal. It has also signed the pact with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka among South Asian countries.

Published: 26-06-2014 09:12

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