Nepal asks Bangladesh to simplify trade procedures

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Nepal has long been asking Bangladesh for easy visa facility for Nepalis, preferential treatment for a number of Nepali goods and access to Bangladeshi ports

May 31, 2018-Nepal asked Bangladesh to address the difficulties being faced by Nepali traders while exporting certain products as the fourth commerce secretary-level trade talks kicked off in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

The Himalayan country also asked one of its key trading partners to revise the list of duty free goods, allow free movement of vehicles, simplify visa procedures and relax sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures for the export of farm products.

The two-day conference will discuss an 18-point agenda related to trade and transit facilitation. The 11-member Bangladeshi delegation is led by Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose.

Both Nepal and Bangladesh are members of a number of regional groupings such as the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta), Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec).

“However, poor connectivity and several non-tariff barriers have been preventing both countries from reaping the benefits,” said Commerce Secretary Chandra Kumar Ghimire in his opening statement at the meeting.

He added that Nepali traders were having difficulties getting market access for products like tea, coffee, large cardamom, broom, fresh fruit, kattha and pashmina in Bangladesh. Nepal is keen to give final shape to the memorandum of understanding on the SPS measures between the two countries which has long remained pending, Ghimire said.

According to the Commerce Ministry, the two countries have agreed in principle to conclude an agreement to harmonise the standards for SPS and technical barriers to trade (TBT) between Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control and its Bangladeshi counterpart.

Likewise, the Nepali Department of Agriculture and the Bangladeshi Department of Agricultural Extension will develop harmonised SPS standards for restriction-free trade of agricultural goods.

As per the ministry, Nepal’s trade deficit with Bangladesh has been swelling. Nepal exported goods worth $8 million to Bangladesh in the first nine months of the fiscal year and and imported goods worth $34 million during the same period.

Following the opening of the Kakarbhitta-Phulbari-Banglabandha transit route in 1997, Bangladesh has permitted Nepal to use its port facilities in Mongla. Bangladesh has also provided an additional rail transit corridor to Nepal via Rohonpur-Sighbad. However, Nepal is yet to fully utilise the transit route.

Exporters need to submit separate radiation free certificates for a number of products. Similarly, Bangladesh allows the import of acrylic yarn only by sea. Nepali traders who have been dispatching acrylic yarn to Bangladesh via Banglabandha now need to send their shipments through Chittagong which has raised their trading costs, as per the ministry.

Nepal has long been asking Bangladesh for easy visa facility for Nepalis, preferential treatment for a number of Nepali goods and access to Bangladeshi ports for exporting goods to third countries.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has been asking Nepal to provide preferential treatment for its products. Bangladeshi Commerce Secretary Bose said the two countries should come together to create complementarities to develop comprehensive economic areas to ensure maximum mutual benefits.

Bose said Bangladesh was ready to revise the operational modality to get real market access for the products of both countries. Stressing the need for better road and railway connectivity, Bose said Bangladeshi investors were keen to invest in Nepal’s water resources, health and tourism, among other sectors.

Published: 31-05-2018 08:07

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