Nepal to sign zero-tariff pact with Bangladesh
The Kathmandu Post/Asia News NetworkThe Kathmandu Post/Asia News Network-- Nepal and Bangladesh are all set to hold commerce joint-secretary-level talks on Feb. 17, in which the Nepali government will sign some crucial trade agreements, including the zero tariff facility under which 146 Nepali agro-goods can enjoy free market access to the country's second largest trading partner in South Asia.
February 12, 2013, 3:45 am TWN
The Nepali government is also likely to take a decision on the Bangladeshi government's demand that some of its products be given preferential treatment in the Nepali market.
During a secretary-level meeting between the two countries held in Kathmandu on June 30, 2012, the Bangladeshi side had agreed in principle to provide duty-free access to Nepali vegetables, fruits.
In that meeting, Nepal had sought the facility for 246 Nepali products. The meeting had formed a bilateral technical committee to study and decide on how many and which Nepali products would get duty-free access to the Bangladeshi market.
The committee was led by Naindra Prashad Upadhya, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies in Nepal. “The upcoming meeting, which is being held in Dhaka, will be between these two technical committees,” said a ministry official.
The ministry has prepared a list of agro items to recommend for duty-free market access to Bangladesh. The list was prepared in coordination with private sector bodies including the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Exporters have been complaining that despite huge demand, Nepali agricultural products are facing difficulties in entering the Bangladeshi market owing to high tariffs.
During the 2012 meeting, the Bangladeshi side had demanded trade expansion and up to a 5-percent tariff cut for their products. The tariff cut was sought on products such as juice, fish, clothes, tissue paper, electrical goods, pharmaceuticals and cement, among others. “We will try to explore possibilities to fulfill their demands,” said the ministry official.
In the upcoming meeting, Nepal will ask the Bangladeshi side to endorse a transport agreement signed in 2006. The agreement envisages connecting Nepal and Bangladesh directly through India and is expected to ease and enhance trade between the two countries. “Besides, the meeting will also discuss other modalities of transportation,” said Upadhya who will lead the Nepali side in the meeting.
He said Nepal will also forward a draft of the agreement on the food quarantine certification system.
“As per the request of the Bangladeshi government, we are handing over the draft of the memorandum of understanding on the food quarantine certification system,” he said.