Finance Minister Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada said that with its geographical and economic size India is a major power in the region and its trade policy make a lot of difference in the region.
Finance minister Dr. Khatiwada said that it is not fair for big countries to ask small countries to maintain reciprocity in the bilateral trade. He said that the big countries have to lift the trade barrier imposed on the smaller countries like Nepal to make equal trade.
He said that Nepal continues to follow liberalization of trade whatever political regime come. He added that the current disputes on trade showed there is something wrong and need to review it.
Launching the World Bank Report “A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia as a chief guest, finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada said that trade will be win-win only all the countries treats each other equally. .
Prepared by Sanjay Kathuria, World Bank Lead Economist as the lead author, the report documents systematically the gaps between current and potential trade in South Asia and addresses important specific barriers that have held trade back.
Hosted by the World Bank in partnership with the South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), other speakers also said that Nepal has the potential to increase exports to South Asia by many folds.
In his welcome remarks, Bigyan Pradhan, Acting Country Manager, The World Bank highlighted the importance of the report.
In his special Remarks, Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Secretary (Commerce and Supplies), MoICS said that Nepal is opening its market and demanding similar from other countries. He said that Nepal is yet to tap its trade potential in the region.
Shekhar Golchha, Senior Vice President, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), spoke on the importance of trade and connectivity.
Dr. Swarnim Waglé, Former Vice-chairman, National Planning Commission, said that Nepal needs to take benefit of regional trade using its advantage as a LDC nation.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Posh Raj Pandey, Chairman, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), said that there is a huge gap in the regional and bilateral trade.
The report shows that Nepal has the potential to increase exports to South Asian countries four-fold. The report also says that man-made barriers have held back intraregional trade in South Asia. If these barriers were reduced, intraregional trade could grow from its current value of $23 billion to $67 billion.
The World Bank reports says that intraregional trade in South Asia remains one of the lowest in the world and accounts for about 5 percent of the region’s total trade, compared with 50 percent in East Asia and the Pacific. Nepal mostly exports to South Asia and has a trade deficit of $10.8 billion which is equivalent to 37 percent of its GDP.
According to the report, south Asian countries impose greater trade barriers for imports from within the region than from the rest of the world. More than one-third of intraregional trade falls under sensitive lists, which are goods that are not offered occasional tariffs under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). More than any other country in the region.
Connectivity is a key enabler for robust regional cooperation in South Asia. Poor land and air connectivity prevent South Asian countries from reaping the benefits of shared borders, the report adds. “There are no flights between Nepal and Sri Lanka, the Maldives, or Afghanistan,” said Sanjay Kathuria, World Bank’s lead economist. “Lack of connectivity is a key contributor to the high cost of trade between Nepal and South Asia and improving connectivity will take Nepal a long way.”