Nepal can mobilise its mission in Tokyo to promote Lumbini — the birth place of Lord Buddha — and to also attract investment from Japanese investors, according to an envoy.
Suggesting the Nepali embassy in Tokyo to be more active in branding Lumbini as a historical place of importance rather than the birth place of Lord Buddha, as Japanese are, unlike Sri Lankans and Thais, not very religiously inclined, Japanese ambassador to Nepal Kunio Takahashi — during the 39th annual meeting of JICA Alumni Association of Nepal here today — said that not only Lumbini but other places of historical importance must also be promoted to attract Japanese tourists.
In 2011, some 26,283 Japanese tourists — around 3.6 per cent of the overall tourist arrivals — visited Nepal. "The number could be increased, if the Nepali mission in Tokyo is more active," he added.
Likewise, the total foreign direct investment (FDI) outflow of Japan stood at $114.3 billion in 2012. "But Nepal received only $14.35 million," said director general of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Dr Hemant Dawadi.
The umbrella organisation of the domestic private sector is optimistic but realist of the current situation in the country, he said, adding that Japanese investors could bring resource, technology, capital and culture, especially work discipline to Nepal. "FNCCI is focusing on creating more employment by urging political parties to agree on a common minimum economic agenda with special focus on power, good governance and anti-corruption practice."
Nepal's export to Japan for last fiscal year 2011-12 stood at Rs 767.2 million, whereas imports stood at Rs 4.47 billion, though Nepal has Japanese joint venture industries worth Rs 2.98 billion spread across agro-based, construction, energy, manufacturing, minerals, services and tourism.
Nepal offers infrastructure including hydropower, aviation, transport and urban development, services like tourism, ICT, health and education, agro-based industries, BPO, mines and minerals and Fast Moving Consumer Goods, said chief executive of the Investment Board Radhesh Pant.
"Nepal Investment Board was established to facilitate big investments in the country," he said, adding that the board has initiated various policy reforms to facilitate investors through one-window policy.
Japan — the sixth country in terms of FDI investment in Nepal — has also been interested in development assistance to Nepal through JICA that has categorised the Nepali economy into agriculture dependent, remittance dependent and aid dependent country."It is a must for Nepal to materialise advantages including strengths and opportunities for its development," said JICA representative in Nepal Kunio Takahashi. "But the problems at policy, industry and company levels prevent the private sector from making their businesses efficient and effective," he said, adding that political instability has also hurt investor confidence.