NGCCI is one of the largest bilateral chambers of Nepal. With about 25 years of age it is also the oldest bilateral chamber of Nepal, you might say the most experienced, and a particularly professional and competent bilateral chamber, which the German Embassy is proud to be associated with. The theme of our AGM is “Political Stability for Economic Prosperity”. Germany and the whole European Union wish for Nepal that the historical chance provided by the successful democratic elections of November 19, 2013 and the formation of a two-thirds majority government are successfully made use of, that the long overdue local elections are being held without delay as a matter of utmost priority and that the new democratic constitution of Nepal is in force by January 2015 according to the official time schedule of the Constituent Assembly.
These would be positive political signals and decisive confidence-building measures for potential investors from Germany and the whole European Union, signals for democratic stability as the foundation for economic prosperity.
NGCCI, as part of the private sector, will certainly continue to publicly and effectively be making this case. Furthermore, I am confident that the Chamber, under its new President, will continue to play an effective role advocating policy measures that are contributing to an economically successful Nepal and promoting German-Nepal business links and the interests of its members.
Pursuing these objectives NGCCI, the German Embassy and German Development Cooperation – GIZ – have always been good partners. We are grateful to NGCCI for our fruitful cooperation and we are looking forward to further joint projects.
In particular, strengthening of the cooperation of NGCCI with German Development Cooperation – GIZ – and KfW German Development Bank would be useful, for “Sustainable Economic Development and Trade” is one of the focal areas of German-Nepal development cooperation.
Two weeks ago, German-Nepal consolations on bilateral development cooperation have been taking place at Kathmandu. On this occasion Germany once more confirmed its commitment as a reliable partner of Nepal. We also took the opportunity to request unbureaucratic flexible governmental assistance for the good work of the more than 130 private German initiatives active in Nepal which are supporting a wide range of development activities.
We all know that development cooperation and private development initiatives are important contributions to the improvement of living conditions of many poor people. However, they are not sufficient to achieve sustainable economic progress. Investments of the private sector and particularly foreign investment are indispensable prerequisites for a significant reduction of poverty and of unemployment.
Such investment from Germany and the whole European Union will certainly happen, once there is the justified perception of democratic stability of the country. Successful local elections and a democratic constitution are indeed the decisive yardsticks for potential investors regarding their assessment whether there is an investment-friendly political environment or not.
In order to attract new foreign investments, the obstacles to enter the Nepalese market need to be limited to a minimum amount. Foreign investors investing into the Nepalese market bring new employment and prosperity to the Nepalese society and significantly contribute to economic growth.
In this context I would like to reiterate the importance of encouraging small investment, too, and of judging such investment projects on their individual merits. Small investment projects should accordingly be attracted by sufficiently low thresholds and a One window policy. I hope that the envisaged Foreign Investment Act takes this into account. Sufficiently low thresholds and a One Window policy also for small attractive investment projects in the FDI Act would be concrete, effective policy measures creating new employment and significantly contributing towards achieving economic prosperity.
A particular successful initiative of NGCCI in this regard was its round table on “Investment Potentials and Experiences of German Investors in Nepal”, which took place last October and in which German investors and representatives of the Government of Nepal were participating.
As a result of this round table NGCCI published a press release identifying obstacles for investments and calling for better investment conditions for German investors.
Further such initiatives would establish NGCCI as a link between politics and business and would significantly contribute to advancing the Nepalese economy.
A factor deterring foreign investment and seriously impeding economic progress is the lack of skilled labour and well qualified craftsmen and technicians and the lack of sufficient vocational training facilities in Nepal. Here Germany can provide expertise and support:
The German dual vocational training system is quite special internationally speaking. On completing secondary school, approximately half of the young people in Germany move on to learn one of the 350 officially recognised vocations included in the Two-Track System combining practical parts of the course in a company and specialist theoretical instruction in a vocational school. The German dual vocational training system is a cornerstone of the economic success of Germany. Solid vocational training would provide many young Nepali citizens with vocational skills and secure employment, at home or abroad, with decent wages and working conditions, and it would provide Nepalese companies and foreign investors with well qualified, skilled employees who are so very much in demand presently.
Two impressive private German-Nepal initiatives are on the way contributing to improve this situation: On 26 May, two weeks from now, “Nepal Vocational Academy” in Panauti will officially be inaugurated and last Friday the foundation stone was laid in Bhaktapur for another vocational academy. Both are private German-Nepal development projects, which are eligible for German governmental financial support. Representatives of the German and Nepal NGOs supporting these projects, Dr. Puri, Herr Bahr, and Herr Brust are with us tonight.
The presentation on “Providing Career Opportunities for SLC Graduates of SDB School”, which took place in our business session today, is another private German-Nepal initiative, which is exemplary, deserves support and is important for young people, their employers and the economy.
These important private German-Nepal development projects stand, as I already mentioned, for more than 130 private German initiatives active in Nepal in a wide range of development cooperation activities. Germany, the whole European Union and many other international development partners encourage and support the good work of these private initiatives and organisation.
We appreciate the strong spirit of ownership and the need for transparency expressed in the current draft of the new Nepal Development Cooperation Policy. However, Germany – in line with the whole EU and many other international development partners – would like to once more highlight our concerns that some of the provisions of the draft could prevent most useful private development activities and should be further discussed with a view of encouraging these development activities and making them most effective.
Our Annual General Meeting is taking place at a hopeful point of time in the political life of Nepal. The successful democratic elections of 19 November 2013,one of the best democratic elections anywhere,provide a historical opportunity for the Government of Nepal to decisively move ahead towards democratic stability and economic progress.
These elections reflect the will and the mandate of the people of Nepal for democratic stability in order to achieve economic prosperity. The Nepal German Chamber of Commerce and Industry is playing its constructive role in this great national endeavour. I extend my best wishes to President and Board of NGCCI for their important work for German-Nepal relations, for their members and for their country. Germany and the whole European Union will continue to be reliable partners of Nepal on its way to democratic stability and economic prosperity.
I am grateful to have been asked for opening remarks on the occasion of the 20th and 21st Annual General Meeting of NGCCI, because this provides me with an opportunity to thank you all, in particular the outgoing President and the Board Members, for the excellent and fruitful cooperation between Chamber and German Embassy over the last two years.
In a few minutes the Secretary General will present the Annual Report and the Annual Plan. As far as I am aware of the plans of NGCCI I would like to assure you that the German Embassy will continue to be your reliable partner in your future projects and challenges.
I am also grateful for this opportunity to make a few concrete suggestions for the future work of NGCCI and our cooperation, some of which are easy to implement and some, due to financial and personnel constraints would take more time to implement:
Our joint objective is to successfully promote the interests of the members of the Chamber and German-Nepal business links generally. For this purpose in particular, I hope and expect that the good cooperation of Chamber, Embassy and in particular also German Development Cooperation (GIZ) will be maintained and even enhanced in the future.
Sustainable economy and trade promotion is a focal area of German-Nepal Development Cooperation and we should make full use of the expertise of GIZ in this regard, keeping close contact, providing mutual support and identifying issues and projects for joint efforts, in the interest of our common objective, the promotion of German-Nepal business links.
I also encourage NGCCI to expand its cooperation with KfW German Development Bank which is going to provide improved access to finance for Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Furthermore, I suggest that you encourage, in the context of your cooperation with FNCCI, joint activities of Falkenberg, your German expert, and Ballschmieter, Falkenberg’s colleague and counterpart with FNCCI.
It is important that NGCCI identifies and grooms a successor for Mrs. Falkenberg, who, for valid personal reasons and to my regret, is leaving NGCCI early next year. Her contribution to the successful cooperation between NGCCI and German Embassy is of great value. Mrs. Falkenberg’s presentations at “Nepal Business Information Days” of the Asia-Pacific Business Association in Hamburg last July and last April informing German business companies about business opportunities in Nepal have been most effective.
It is important for the enhancement of German-Nepal business links to have a competent expert taking care of these annual presentations at Hamburg in the coming years, too.
I hope that Mrs. Falkenberg’s successor will be providing information on business opportunities in Nepal and Germany to businessmen, companies and business associations of our two countries as efficiently as Mrs. Falkenberg. The upcoming “8th Foreign Trade Day”, a biannual event organised by the Association of Germany Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag, DIHK) in September 2014 with 40 representatives from foreign trade chambers (AHK) is also an important event for the promotion of bilateral economic opportunities, at which NGCCI should be represented.
Regarding organisational matters of the Chamber I have only one suggestion:
I would like you to consider forming special committees each of which would be addressing a major problem for German-Nepal business links. They could, for instance, advocate the essential interests of the Members of NGCCI for an investment-friendly climate and for the abolition of trade barriers in Nepal-Indian trade.
I am confident that NGCCI, especially as part of the private sector and together with other business associations, will continue to effectively voice its views on economic policies publicly and with the Government of Nepal, which affect German-Nepal business relations. In this context I ask NGCCI to particularly address serious concerns regarding the drafts for a foreign investment act and a national development cooperation policy.
Germany and the whole European Union and many other international development partners are advocating regulations which are encouraging foreign direct investment by low thresholds and a One Window policy also for attractive, employment-friendly small investment projects and are advocating regulations which are promoting private development initiatives and joint development projects of German and Nepal NGOs.
There are more than 130 German private initiatives active in Nepal supporting a wide range of development activities, many of them related to business, vocational training and economic development.
I would like to encourage you to seek closer cooperation with such projects and development activities, especially with those aiming at the promotion of vocational training in Nepal along the lines of the dual vocational training system of Germany. The presentation on “Providing Career Opportunities for SLC Graduates of SDB School” which will take place during this business session, is a good example for such cooperation of NGCCI and private German development activities.
Meyke is a German Ambassador to Nepal. Excerpts of his statement delivered at the Inaugural and concluding session of the 20th and 21st Annual General Meeting of NGCCI. He is also Honorary President of NGCCI .