Update laws to attract Indian capital: Envoy

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Aug 20, 2014-

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae on Wednesday asked Nepal to improve its legal provisions on intellectual property rights (IPR) and labour laws in order to attract increased investments from the southern neighbour.

Speaking at an interaction organized by the Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), Rae said, “Indian investors have been complaining that the weak legal provisions regarding IPR and lack of business-friendly labour laws are major hurdles to investing in Nepal.”

The envoy’s remarks have come at a time when Chinese investment commitments to Nepal have overtaken those from India. In the last fiscal year 2013-14, Chinese financiers pledged investments worth Rs 7.31 billion against Rs 6.54 billion from India, traditionally the largest investor in Nepal.

Despite a surge in Chinese investments, India is still the largest contributor of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Nepal. Until the last fiscal, FDI from India stood at Rs 44.15 billion compared to Rs 17.96 billion from China.

The Indian envoy also asked Nepal’s private sector to play an important role to promote Nepal as an investment destination in the international market.

“With the Indian government and the private sector being willing to work in collaboration with Nepal, the private sector here should market the country’s potential to attract Indian investments in the country,” he said.

As Nepal has been facing a huge and growing trade deficit with India, Rae suggested giving priority to identifying and exporting products that are in high demand in India. “India is also positive on providing Nepal an easier transit access for third country trade including Bangladesh,” he added.

He also stressed harnessing Nepal’s hydropower potential saying that it could help reduce the ballooning trade deficit with the southern neighbour. “As we are also facing an energy deficit, we are keen to purchase Nepal’s surplus power,” he added.

Rae said that India had been considering okaying five pending letters of exchange that deal with issues like allowing Nepal to use Visakhapatnam Port and transporting bulk cargo through Indian territory.

Meanwhile, NCC President Rajesh Kaji Shrestha asked the Indian side to encourage Indian travellers to visit Nepal, approve the pending letters of exchange as per the agreement reached at the secretary-level Inter-Governmental Committee meeting held in December 2013 in Nepal, speed up quarantine checking of Nepali goods and remove countervailing duty on a number of Nepali products including readymade garment and copper.

He also spoke about NCC’s efforts to improve business-business relations with India.

“The NCC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with five state-level chambers of India including those in Kolkata and Tamil Nadu in order to expand trade ties at the local level,” he said. “We are also planning to sign MoUs with other state chambers of to tap business opportunities.”

Published: 21-08-2014 09:40

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