‘WTO trade privileges still underutilised’

- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu

Nov 30, 2018-

The World Trade Organisation agreements that grant Nepal trade privileges have been fairly underutilised as the country has failed to improve the quantity and quality of its exportable goods, said the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.

As a result, the country’s trade deficit has been widening over the years, it said.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), Nepal’s trade

deficit ballooned to Rs454.47 billion in the first four months of the current fiscal year, as exports of tariff-targeted goods have been nominal to balance the trade.

Commerce Secretary Chandra Kumar Ghimire said there is no such problem when it comes to access to markets abroad. “However, Nepal has failed to improve its products’ quantity and quality to meet the growing demand in the global markets,” Ghimire said, addressing a press meet here on Thursday.

Ghimire is leading a Nepali team for the Trade Policy Review (TPR), a mandatory component for members of the WTO, to be held in Geneva on December 13. As per the WTO protocol, all member nations need to revisit its trade policy at specific intervals.

As per the protocol, least developed countries like Nepal are required to review their trade policy every six years. Developed and developing countries have to review every two and four years respectively.

This is the second time that Nepal is reviewing its trade policy after becoming a member of the WTO in April 2004. Nepal conducted its first TPR in 2012.

According to the ministry, Nepal will brief the TPR meeting on all the measures it had adopted while liberalising the trade as per the WTO norms.

During the first TPR, Nepal had implemented ASYCUDA World (Automated System for Customs Data) at 11 border crossing points as a part of its customs reform programme.

Similarly, Nepal has endorsed the Nepal Electricity Regulatory Commission

Act, Power Purchase Guideline, Guidelines for Development of Grid Connected Alternative Energy, Trade Policy 2015, Industrial Enterprises Act 2016, Companies Act 2017, Foreign Investment and One-Window Policy 2015 and National Tourism Strategy 2016-25, among others.

Nepal is among 36 members of the WTO under the status of least developed economy. These countries are provided duty free access under Generalised System of Preference and are even permitted to export products with a minimum of 25 percent value addition.

Similarly, these countries are allowed to increase tariff temporarily to safeguard their domestic industries in case of an import surge.

Ghimire stressed on the need to comply with the standards and regulation measures imposed by importing countries to boost export of local products. “On the other hand, Nepal should come up with setting its own norms on import items, to check the growing imports,” he said.

Published: 30-11-2018 07:57

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