Friday, August 10, 2012

Nepal, Singapore should plan more joint ventures

Nepal and Singapore must look for ways to start more joint ventures to bridge the trade deficit.
"Though Singapore and Nepal share a cordial relationship, Nepal has a huge trade deficit with Singapore," said former ambassador and foreign relations expert Hiranya Lal Shrestha at the 47th National Day celebrations of Singapore organised by the Nepal-Singapore Friendship Society here today.
"As a country with a predominance of Buddhism, Singapore's religious and cultural relations started with the introduction of Buddhism in Singapore," he said, adding that some 6234 Singaporean tourists visited Nepal in 2011.
With easier air connectivity due to Singapore Air and Silk Air, some 2,442 Singaporeans visited Nepal by air from January to July in the seven months of 2012.
"Nepal not only has a bilateral trade link in Singapore but it is a port that has facilitated Nepal's trade with overseas countries," he said, adding that the trade deficit has been, however, growing against Nepal. "To bridge the growing trade deficit, Nepal must join hands with Singapore and start joint ventures.
Singapore has made investments in tourism, service, manufacturing, energy based, and agriculture sectors amounting to Rs 1505.39 million in 23 different industries — by fiscal year 2010-11 — that has generated some 1,965 jobs.
A country that is among the 15 trade partners of Nepal, Singapore exports dried peas, olive oil, sauce, and polyethylene to Nepal, whereas Nepal exports lentils, carpets and primary cells to Singapore.
Though a small country of 5.18 million, some 33 per cent of the population is Buddhist and Nepal can attract them to visit Nepal as the country is observing Visit Lumbini Year. "Cultural and social ties between our two nations have many common factors, from which we stand to benefit in all aspects of business and economy," according to president of Nepal-Singapore Friendship Society Sanandan Singh.
"Direct flights between the two countries also play an important role in opportunities and benefits," he said, adding that the society is working towards promoting bilateral ties in various areas like education, tourism and other business activities.
Nepal and Singapore established diplomatic relations in March 1969.

Increasing trade deficit
Fiscal year — Export — Import
2005-06 — Rs 322.55 million — Rs 3,375.21 million
2006-07 — Rs 179.60
million — Rs 5,496.87 million
2007-08 — Rs 230.40 million — Rs 5,268.69 million
2008-09 — Rs 509.18 million — Rs 7,047.11 million
2009-10 — Rs 305.66 million — Rs 5,007.33 million
(Source: Trade and Export Promotion Centre)

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