Minister for Commerce Romi Gauchan Thakali has said that the government will soon ratify the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
He said this at a function held in Kathmandu today by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) to disseminate the findings of “Trade and Transport Facilitation Audit in South Asia”.
In December 2013, WTO members concluded negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference. As a Member of WTO, Nepal was obligated to ratify the document.
Gauchan also said that seamless trade in South Asia region is important for unleashing the potential of trade for poverty reduction. He said that poor connectivity and trade facilitation have affected regional trade. It is because of this that in spite of the SAFTA [South Asian Free Trade Agreement] being in force since 2006 regional trade is not encouraging in South Asia.
Speaking at the inaugural,President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Suraj Vaidya said that the commitments made by South Asian governments look promising but it is the private sector that has been trying to move ahead. He complained that government responses were not very encouraging and this was further hampered by issues that come up from time to time like the recent postponement of the 19th SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad.
Similarly, L. Savithri, Director for Trade, Finance and Economics at the SAARC Secretariatwas of the view that business should be put ahead of politics and that the business community in SAARC countries can push for greater regional cooperation in South Asia.
Dr. Posh Raj Pandey, Chairman of SAWTEE, said that this research has contributed in identifying trade- and transport-related bottlenecks in the region and estimating the required investment for adopting considerable trade facilitation measures.
About 35 participants from the government, private sector, media, academics and various other stakeholders from Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will engage in the two days meeting today and tomorrow. Country presentations for all the eight SAARC countries are to be presented during the meeting.