The country should focus on promoting products and services that have competitive and comparative advantages to bridge the ballooning trade deficit, according to caretaker prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai.
Inaugurating the 'Made in Nepal' exhibition, here today, he said that at a time when globalisation has provided consumers more choices, Nepali entrepreneurs should produce quality products and deliver their consignments on schedule to take advantage of globalisation.
"Nepali tea, coffee, cardamom, honey, agro products, pashmina and handicrafts should be developed as local brands to compete in the international market," he said, asking for more investment in health, tourism and education to generate more employment and promote the service sector.
However, lack of basic infrastructure like electricity, strained labour-management relation, difficulty in accessing finance and market, lack of forward and backward linkages, and a not so investment-friendly environment are some of the bottlenecks hindering the promotion of local products, making the country more dependent on imports.
The country's imports stood at Rs 461.67 billion, but the export receipt stood at a mere Rs 74.26 billion, accounting for a huge trade deficit of Rs 387.41 billion due to the government's failure in promoting exports of local products and encouraging entrepreneurs.
Organised by the Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs Forum (NYEF), the third edition of the 'Made in Nepal' exhibition that will be held till September 9, is not only expected to demystify the myth that 'Nepal cannot even produce a needle', but also promote quality local brands.
"The event will help promote locally manufactured products in the domestic market," said immediate past president of NYEF and exhibition coordinator Anuj Kumar Shrestha. "The four-day exhibition with a slogan 'Aafno Bhaneko Aaphnai Ho', is expected to provide a platform to entrepreneurs to promote their local brands and provide better services to consumers under one roof.
Speaking on the occasion, caretaker finance minister Barshaman Pun also hailed the efforts of the young entrepreneurs, and said that such exhibitions will help promote local brands and reduce the country's dependency on foreign products.