Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Agriculture Ministry prepares draft to comply with WTO norms

Agriculture Ministry has prepared a draft of Plant Variety Protection Act.
"We are waiting for the government's approval of the draft Act to finalise it," said spokesperson of the ministry Dr Hari Dahal.
The Act is one of the key components under Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the global trade regime.
As Nepal has already become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), it is now a challenge to formulate appropriate policies and enhance the institutional capabilities in order to comply with and take advantage from the WTO. “We is also preparing Food Safety and Quality Policy and amending some of the old Acts to comply with Nepal's commitments by 2013," he said, adding that the ministry is also finalising the draft of Food Safety and Quality Policy.
Nepal still has to get international Laboratory Accreditation and enhance capacity of employees to meet the WTO standard under agriculture sector, Dahal said, though, the country has already become member of International Plant Protection Convention, ratified International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and established National Codex under the requirements of WTO. “We are in the process of establishing Post Entry Quarantine facility at Harihar Bhawan in Lalitpur also."
Nepal became a member of the world trade regime on April 23, 2004 through negotiation. During the accession, Nepal has made commitments in the agriculture, goods and services sector, which are substantial compared to those made by original members at a comparable level of economic development.
Nepal had made commitments to comply with all WTO trade rules latest by the end of 2006 and fully implement the provisions of Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures by January 1, 2007 but the country has extended the deadline to 2013. “We got the time extension also due to delayed accession," Dahal said.
Though, WTO members agreed to discipline the agriculture sector by reducing domestic and export subsidies at the time of the establishment of the WTO, they are negotiating on the new reduction commitments and time period.
Nepal will have to be cautious that the modalities for tariff reduction ensures enhanced market access in the developing countries and elimination of tariff peaks and tariff escalation in the developed countries -- incase these are not addressed by duty-free quota-free access.
Nepali exports of agriculture products are concentrated in few products and also in few countries like vegetable fats, wheat, lentils, cardamom, oil seeds are exported to India whereas the major market for sugar is Europe.
Thus, the focus of Nepal on market access could be on opening markets in developing countries rather than in the developed countries.

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