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 be publicly and effectively 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 consultations on bilateral development cooperation had 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 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.