Friday, February 8, 2019

Nepal-India agree to consider waterways as ‘trade route'

Nepal and India today agreed to declare inland waterways as one of the ‘trade routes’ in Nepal-India Trade Treaty revision.
The bilateral trade treaty review meeting between the joint commerce secretaries of Nepal and India – that concluded in Pokhara today – has agreed to identify inland waterways as trade route in the trade treaty revision, joint secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Ravi Shankar Saiju confirmed. Saiju led the Nepali team in the discussion with his Indian counterparts. "Apart from the new addition of waterways, the two sides also discussed about enhancing cross-border air and railway connectivity."
The Indian authorities have also been positive towards the re-export of goods from Nepal to India and vice-versa, he said, adding that they have expressed the commitment to raise this issue with the Indian government and introduce re-export provision. "If this provision is introduced, Nepal can import goods from third countries via agencies of different multinational companies located in India." Importing goods from Indian agencies of global brands will help reduce the transportation cost for Nepali importers, he added.
Likewise, the trade treaty review meeting has also concluded that India will address Nepal’s agenda to drop the zero-tariff facility on Indian agricultural goods and some other primary products. "Indian authorities have sought details from Nepal on the call to levy customs tariff on such products," Saiju added.
The Nepali side has tabled the agenda of dropping the zero-tariff facility on Indian agricultural goods and some other primary products due to increasing import of Indian goods – especially agricultural products that are enjoying zero-tariff facility – widening the trade deficit with India, and also affecting the market for Nepali goods. But the Nepal government opins that the Indian authority should give continuity to the zero-tariff export facility for previously listed Nepali products in Indian market.
Ending the zero-tariff facility for Indian agricultural goods and some other primary products is expected to help reduce the widening trade deficit between the two neighbours.
Nepal and India had agreed to review the trade treaty along with the transit treaty and Railway Service Agreement (RSA) between the two countries last April. The two countries revised the trade treaty last time in October 2016 without any changes to the 2009 treaty.
Likewise, during the meeting Nepal has also proposed India to allow two additional seaports to trade with third countries. "Nepal has proposed the India to allow Mundra port (Gujarat) and Dhamra port (Odisha) for third country trade," Saiju said, adding that the Indian side has responded positively on Nepal's request.
Nepal currently uses two seaports – Visakhapatnam Port (Andrapradesh) and Haldia Port (Kolkata) – to trade with third countries.
Kathmandu will soon propose the draft of the revised trade treaty to New Delhi. "The next meeting will discuss about revising the trade treaty as Nepal will present India about what provisions precisely Nepal wants to amend in the existing trade treaty," he added.

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